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House Committee to Consider Trio of Oil and Gas Bills Wednesday

The House Committee on Natural Resources is scheduled to vote on five energy bills at a markup hearing on Wednesday, including three that pertain to the oil and natural gas industry.

The first bill, House Resolution (HR) 6087, aka the Removing Barriers to Energy Independence Act, call for authorizing the secretary of the Department of Interior (DOI) to recover the cost of processing administrative protests for oil and gas lease sales, applications for permits to drill and right of way applications. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).

Earlier this month, Cheney said the oil and gas industry "has been severely burdened by lengthy and often frivolous protests on energy projects." She said her bill "will help relieve this burden by requiring a small fee in order to file a protest.

"Currently, no fee is required and some groups have taken advantage of the ability to file protests for free by flooding the permitting agencies with frivolous protests that have severely delayed the federal permitting process and hurt our economy in Wyoming."

A second bill before the committee -- HR 6088, aka the Streamlining Permitting Efficiencies in Energy Development Act, or SPEED Act -- calls for amending the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) by creating a Notification for Permit to Drill (NPD), an alternative to an application of permit to drill. The bill was sponsored by Rep. John Curtis (R-UT).

According to Curtis' office, NPDs would allow operators to begin drilling in less controversial areas, including in pre-developed oil and gas fields or where an environmental review had already been completed. It would also allow expedited approval of drilling if it's determined to have "no significant effects" on the environment and other resources.

"This bill will help streamline a burdensome federal process, create new economic development opportunities in rural communities across the district, and keep our country on the path of energy independence," Curtis said.

A third piece of legislation, HR 6107, aka the Ending Duplicative Permitting Act, calls for clarifying that DOI's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "shall not require permits for oil and gas activities to access subsurface mineral estate that is less than 50% federally owned." The bill was sponsored by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM).

Last week, the committee passed another bill introduced by Pearce -- HR 6016, aka the Common Sense Permitting Act. That bill calls for excluding certain activities, including oil and gas drilling on public lands managed by DOI, from review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

"The BLM's inability to timely permit energy activities is costing New Mexico thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue," Pearce said. "These two bills will ensure New Mexico can continue to play a leading role in America's energy revolution."

The other two bills under consideration by the committee Wednesday call for establishing an offshore wind career training grant program (HR 5291), and amending the MLA to require that a portion of revenues from new federal mineral and geothermal leases be paid to states to fund K-12 and higher education (HR 5859).

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