Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., introduced a bill that would extend a program designed to streamline the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas permitting process.
The legislation would restore funding to the Permit Processing Improvement Fund, created as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The funding is set to expire in 2015 and has been used to provide added resources to BLM field offices in Rawlins and Buffalo.
"Delays have plagued the Bureau of Land Management's oil and gas permitting process for years,” Barrasso said. “Our bipartisan bill reauthorizes this program and makes a number of important changes to it that will ensure Wyoming and other BLM offices can process permits in a timely manner.”
The fund allows Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to distribute $18 million annually to field offices for the investment in additional staff and resources. The BLM oversees a range of issues on public lands, including mineral leasing permits and wildlife and range conservation.
The new bill, introduced Thursday, would give the interior secretary the flexibility to designate new project offices to adapt to changes in the industry.
The bill creates a $9,500 fee, effective in 2016, for drilling permit applications. Funding created by this fee will be used to support the BLM’s permitting processes.
Barrasso introduced the bill in cooperation with Tom Udall, D-N.M. Udall said the bipartisan bill would provide consistency to the industry.
“Our bipartisan bill will make this successful program permanent, providing certainty for industry and giving the BLM the flexibility it needs to balance the complex demands of oil and gas permitting and environmental management," Udall said.