Hoeven Working to Streamline Federal Permits for Energy Development

Senator Invites Interior Official to North Dakota to Meet with Local Energy Industry on APD Delays, See Reclamation Practices Firsthand

WASHINGTON – During a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week, Senator John Hoeven outlined the need to streamline the federal permitting process for energy development. Hoeven stressed that delays in the permit process drive energy producers to avoid projects involving federal lands and mineral rights, adding cost to their operations and depriving the federal government of much-needed revenue. 

Hoeven highlighted his legislation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Mineral Spacing Act, which would direct BLM to establish a pilot program to waive the requirement for a federal permit when less than 50 percent of subsurface minerals are owned or held in trust by the federal government and there is no federal surface land. This would help free up BLM’s staff and resources and address the backlog of applications for permit to drill (APD) on federal lands. Jim Cason, Associate Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Interior, committed to work with Hoeven on this legislation and advance solutions to streamline APDs.

“The delays in federal permitting impose increased costs on energy producers and consumers, while also reducing royalties to mineral holders, including the government,” Hoeven said. “Our legislation would give control back to majority mineral rights holders and allow BLM to better focus on its surface acres. That means BLM can get more done with greater efficiency and the federal government will have access to increased revenues. I appreciate Mr. Cason for agreeing to work with us on this legislation, which aligns with our broader effort to provide regulatory relief for all of our energy producers.”

In addition, Hoeven invited Cason to North Dakota to meet with the state’s energy industry on the permit delays and learn firsthand about the benefits of a state-led regulatory approach. Hoeven cited the success of the state’s lignite coal industry and its land reclamation practices, which have been consistently recognized for their excellence by federal agencies. Hoeven said such practices stand as an example of how state primacy in regulations helps provide certainty for producers and a more timely permit process while ensuring good environmental outcomes.

The hearing comes as part of Hoeven’s efforts to support robust energy development for the nation, which creates good paying jobs and generates revenues for local, state and federal government. To this end, Hoeven is working to advance regulatory relief for the nation’s energy developers, including:

  • Stopping the Waters of the U.S. Rule  Hoeven worked through the Appropriations Committee to defund the regulation in 2016 and 2017. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently issued a proposal to restore the regulations that were in place prior to WOTUS, which was issued in 2015. This is the first of two steps established by the executive order signed by the president in February.
  • Repealing the Stream Buffer Rule – Hoeven helped introduce and pass legislation to rescind the one-size-fits-all Stream Buffer Rule, which was primarily based on mining practices in the Appalachian region and threatened to eliminate thousands of mining jobs.
  • Rolling Back Burdensome Regulations – Hoeven joined the President and Interior Secretary to implement executive orders and begin rolling back regulations that hamper domestic energy production, including the EPA’s costly rules for coal-generating power plants, BLM’s hydraulic fracturing rule for federal lands, BLM’s methane rule and the moratorium on federal coal leasing. The senator also cosponsored and voted for a resolution to repeal the BLM methane rule, for which the administration has proposed a three-year delay while it works to review and rescind the rule.
  • Rescinding BLM “Planning 2.0” – Hoeven cosponsored and helped pass a resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal the rule. This maintained multiple-use requirements for federal lands, including energy development.