Bill to streamline oil and gas permits heads for Obama’s desk

SOURCE: Grandforksherald.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. — 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.

According to news by Bostech Drilling, 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 was supportive of the bill, he said.

This session, 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.

Right now, federal permits 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.

“Without the bill, that means that every time somebody has to look at something or they have to adjust something, the paperwork has to be sent to the other agency and then back and forth, back and forth,” Cramer said.

“The people that are working on a permit will all be housed in the BLM office in one office” now, he said. “It shaves weeks, really, off of the process.”

BLM Billings office spokeswoman Mel Lloyd was cautiously optimistic about the help the bill would provide for North Dakota permits — there will still be challenges, she said.

“It should help, yes, but will it make every pending (permit application) go away? No, not necessarily.”

Continuing problems center on staffing — recruiting people, retaining them and housing them, she said.

The Dickinson BLM office recently acquired land to build employee housing, but that’s only in the design phase.

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.

18 comments on “Bill to streamline oil and gas permits heads for Obama’s desk

  1. Swell – I’m so relieved that this bill will make it possible for the government to collect more royalties – after all, the almighty dollar is all that’s important!

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    • The BLM isn’t maintaining public lands for a “thriving ecological balance,” but instead, for a thriving monetary income raked in by the Dept. of Interior.

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      • Great point, Debbie. I wonder what part of a “natural ecological balance” contains oil and gas pads, operations and side effects. Have to wonder what part of America is not for sale to even the low bidders.

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  2. NPR broadcasted the Commonwealth Club of CA last weekend with guest speaker the elusive Sec. of Interior, who clearly sees herself as the general contractor for developers of our public lands (that’s oil drilling and gas fracking). Oddly, no one asked her what her plans are for 50,000 stockpiled wild horses, but the last question challenged her about professing to recognize global warming as important, yet acting contrary to that position by selling out public lands to coal extraction developers recently. Her response was, “… we have to look at what we can get.”
    It seems the government will sell whatever they can get away with to fund their payrolls and retirement. The health of the environment, wildlife and ecology, the welfare of future generations – none of this counts in comparison to immediate gratification: money. Removal of wild horses has never been open to discussion or negotiable, and the public, placated by releasing frustration with calls and letters, duped.

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    • This oil and gas lease sale is not to fund the government retirement’s fund; this is about funding political campaigns for Democratic Senators and Presidential candidates. Ms. Jewel is where she is so she can dance with the ones who got her in her position—guess who REI is a corporate with? The Nature Conservancy. So, here is her pay back.

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  3. How come WE THE PEOPLE don’t a cut of the share of the proceeds? I mean if the land is ours (remember the word PUBLIC?)I’d think we’d get a chance to vote or something. DOI has been raking in the greenbacks for so long–I’m surprised that more of them aren’t billionaires by now.

    Where is all that money going?

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  4. I doubt the word public ever meant much to this government. I’m beginning to really wonder too if the public ever really owned any of the so called public land? With government agencies doing what ever they want with the public land, it looks more to me like the public was duped into believing that they really had a say in what was done with it. I think that is the reason the BLM ignores anything the public has to say about rounding up the mustangs and the judges always side with the BLM in court cases. This might be to placate the public that pays taxes to maintain the parks and the land plus all of the employees paychecks.

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    • You nailed it, Barbara. President appoints the Secretary of Interior, who answers to him, and the BLM answers to the Secretary. There’s no “public” in the process – only in who we elect as President. As Americans we hold to our ideal “of the people, for the people, by the people”; yet control of both parties is in the hands of corporations, and one of those is a big welfare recipient, the oil industry.

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  5. http://economyincrisis.org/content/eu-u-s-free-trade-agreement-will-give-more-power-to-multinational-corporations
    EU-U.S. Free Trade Agreement Will Give More Power to Multinational Corporations
    October 30, 2013 John Olen

    Closed-door meetings already started earlier this year on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This agreement, known alternately as Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA), is ostensibly a “free trade” agreement in the model of NAFTA and CAFTA that would lower barriers to trade between the United States and the European Union. Tariffs between the U.S. and the EU are already low, so it is clear there are more sinister motives for pursuing this new trade agreement than gaining market access.

    In reality, the biggest threat from this agreement is the power it is likely to give to the multinational corporations who have pushed for its enactment, which could lead to big problems for the United States down the line. Our government is increasingly under the control of well-funded corporate masters, and these are the forces pushing for the agreement. While these are powerful interests, the text of this agreement has not yet been written and the voice of the average citizen can still make a difference, if citizens are willing to speak out now, before it is too late.

    Unlike many of the previous agreements the United States has signed onto, TTIP is not an agreement with a low-wage, low-regulation country. Wages in the EU are comparable to those in the United States, and European labor and environmental standards are often more stringent than those we have here. As a result, we are unlikely to see this agreement have the same direct negative impact on U.S. jobs that previous agreements have had, with scores of U.S. jobs sent overseas due to agreements like NAFTA. Instead, this agreement is likely to further entrench the power of corporations to shape the laws of sovereign nations to fit their needs.

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  6. Where is the concern for our Wild Horses/Burrows and the wolves?? Clearly, it is not with Sally Jewel!!!!!!!! Indeed, our Government is corrupt to the “very top!! We must continue our fight for our National Treasures!! We are their only hope!!

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    • The Name says it all BLM BUREAU of LAND MANAGEMENT Not the BUREAU of MUSTANG PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION !!!!!! Seems perfectly right to me , for us to form our own Agency…… The BMPP Bureau of Mustang Protection and Preservation, we have all the experts right here dont we !!!!!!!If the Government funds those morons, why not make them fund a REAL Mustang Agency !!!!!!! Pack your Bags Sally Jewel !!!!!!

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  7. Follow that same old Money Trail…
    http://www.pogo.org/our-work/reports/sec-revolving-door.html
    The SEC’s Revolving Door

    A revolving door blurs the lines between one of the nation’s most important regulatory agencies and the interests it regulates. Former employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) routinely help corporations try to influence SEC rulemaking, counter the agency’s investigations of suspected wrongdoing, soften the blow of SEC enforcement actions, block shareholder proposals, and win exemptions from federal law. POGO’s report examines many manifestations of the revolving door, analyzes how the revolving door can influence the SEC, and explores how to mitigate the most harmful effects

    A revolving door blurs the lines between one of the nation’s most important regulatory agencies and the interests it regulates.
    Former employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) routinely help corporations try to influence SEC rulemaking, counter the agency’s investigations of suspected wrongdoing, soften the blow of SEC enforcement actions, block shareholder proposals, and win exemptions from federal law.

    The revolving door was on display in 2012 when the investment industry opposed one of the top priorities of the SEC chairman, a plan to tighten regulation of money market funds. Former SEC employees lobbied to block the plan, and an SEC Commissioner who previously worked for an investment firm played a pivotal role in derailing it.

    The movement of people to and from the financial industry is a key feature of the SEC, and it has the potential to influence the agency’s culture and values. It matters because the SEC has the power to affect investors, financial markets, and the economy.

    Yet, the SEC has exempted certain senior employees from a “cooling off period” that would have restricted their ability to leave the SEC and then represent clients before the agency. In addition, the SEC has shielded some former employees from public scrutiny by blacking out their names in documents they must file when they go through the revolving door.

    The SEC is a microcosm of the federal government, where widespread revolving expands the opportunities for private interests to sway public policy.

    One academic study suggested that concerns about the SEC’s revolving door are misguided. But the academics looked at only a sliver of the SEC’s work. They did not examine, for instance, how the revolving door affects the SEC’s regulation of Wall Street, its granting of relief to specific companies, its handling of cases related to the financial crisis, or its decisions to drop investigations without bringing charges. The study sought to quantify any influence the revolving door might have on SEC enforcement actions, but the subtleties involved do not lend themselves to such simple measurement.
    This report, the Project On Government Oversight’s (POGO) second on the SEC, is based in part on interviews with current and former SEC officials and thousands of federal records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
    POGO found that, from 2001 through 2010, more than 400 SEC alumni filed almost 2,000 disclosure forms saying they planned to represent an employer or client before the agency. Those disclosures are just the tip of the iceberg, because former SEC employees are required to file them only during the first two years after they leave the agency.

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