Cramer: House Votes to Cut Red Tape Blocking Energy Jobs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer announced the House of Representatives passed a bill he cosponsored to expand responsible domestic energy production and job opportunities by reforming energy development policy on federal and tribal lands. The Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act of 2013 will: reform leasing and permitting processes for oil, natural gas, solar, and wind projects, require all-of-the-above energy planning and reporting for responsible development of federal onshore resources, reform leasing and permitting for the Alaskan National Petroleum Reserve, authorize internet-based onshore oil and gas lease sales, and reduce bureaucratic burdens for tribal energy development. A companion bill introduced by Sen. John Hoeven is awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Oil and natural gas production on federal lands has declined under the Obama Administration, resulting from the lowest four years of leased federal acres since 1988. Drilling permit processing delays routinely exceed 300 days. In a speech on the House floor today, Cramer said the bill would reverse the reduction in leased and permitted federal acres by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to lease areas with the greatest energy potential, empowering local Bureau of Land Management (BLM) field offices to keep half of permit application fees, and setting deadlines for the issuing of leases and permits.
“In visiting with the developers and the federal agency personnel in North Dakota as well as Washington, D.C., the challenges they face in meeting the growing demand for permits are largely due to a lack of resources. By allowing local agency offices like the BLM and National Grasslands offices in ND to utilize more of the funds from filing fees to process the numerous applications, the process can be expedited without compromising the integrity of their mission to protect natural resources,” Cramer said. “They do a great job but they need more resources, especially in an economy that is so competitive for workforce.”
This month Cramer met with federal agency employees at the BLM Field Office in Dickinson and the U.S. Forest Service McKenzie Ranger District Office in Watford City to get a ground level assessment of the government role in oil and gas development and receive feedback on ways Congress can help them in their tasks. In May the House of Representatives passed a bill Cramer introduced to streamline the BLM in the Dakotas.
“Our producers have already demonstrated energy development can be done responsibly on federal lands. This bill would allow federal agencies to be better partners with our state and industry by giving them the resources needed to handle the strong demand of the Bakken,” said Ron Ness, President of the North Dakota Petroleum Council.
Energy development on tribal lands
On many reservations, frivolous lawsuits and government barriers are keeping Native American tribes from moving forward with energy development and creating jobs for their citizens. The bill streamlines regulation and protects tribal sovereignty by blocking any federal rule on hydraulic fracturing unless it has the consent of the Native American landowners, eliminate taxpayer compensation for those filing frivolous lawsuits blocking development, and requiring actions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to be available for public comment only by members of the affected tribe and other individuals residing within the affected area.
“Empowering our Tribal members with more control over their energy resources will create needed jobs and economic security on reservations. It is unacceptable for the federal government to stand in the way of their progress,” Cramer added.
A recent report from North Dakota Director of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms states Fort Berthold Reservation contains 2,314 potential future wells which will require BLM approval. Helms added, “the number of rigs actively drilling on federal surface in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands remains at 0.”
The Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act of 2013 incorporates several bills from the House Committee on Natural Resources: H.R. 1394, H.R. 1964, H.R. 555, and H.R. 1548. Congressman Cramer serves on the Natural Resources and Science, Space and Technology Committees. Within these committees, he serves on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations, and the Subcommittee on Energy.