Katherine Lymn, Forum News Service, Published December 20 2013
Bill streamlining oil, gas permits heads for Obama's deskWASHINGTON – A bill that will streamline permitting for drilling on federal lands is headed for President Barack Obama’s desk, and congressional sponsors say the White House supports it.
Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., introduced the bill in the House, and Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., co-authored the Senate version.
Hoeven originally introduced a version of the same bill last session, but a counterpart was never brought up in the House. After that loss, Hoeven said, the White House reached out and said it supports the bill.
Cramer said he brought the bill right after he started in January. Hoeven reintroduced his.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Miles City, Mont., office was already part of the Federal Permit Streamlining Pilot Project, established in 2005. The bill adds North Dakota to the project under the new name Montana/Dakotas State Office so that the Dickinson BLM office can benefit from the project.
The Dickinson BLM office has a backlog of hundreds of applications for permits to drill.
Federal permits now take up to nine months for approval, compared to 10 days for private land, according to a news release.
Many federal agencies are involved in processing the drilling applications – from the U.S. Forest Service to the Environmental Protection Agency. Now, the Montana/Dakotas office can work with the agencies in a more effective way.
Hoeven said the bill benefits the federal government as a whole because the more federal drilling permits are approved, the more royalties the government collects.