Dozens of applications for oil and gas wells and ancillary facilities in the Dakota Prairie and Little Missouri National Grasslands in North Dakota and South Dakota are among the infrastructure projects that will be expedited through permitting and environmental review processes, President Obama announced last week.

Approximately 80 applications currently on file for wells, along with associated pipelines and power lines, will be put on a fast-track review process by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service in coordination with the Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management and use of the 390 Categorical Exclusion provided under the 2005 Energy Policy Act, according to the White House.

Reviews of two other energy projects — the Cleghorn Ridge Wind Project in the San Bernardino National Forest in California and the Deerfield Wind Power Project in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont — will also be expedited as a result of a Presidential Memorandum Obama issued Aug. 31. A total of 14 infrastructure projects were selected for expedited review, including replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York and the Whittier Bridge in Massachusetts, construction or extension of light rail lines in Los Angeles and Baltimore, a major highway construction project in Utah, and coastal habitat restoration projects in California and Washington.

“As the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has highlighted, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of federal permit decisions and environmental reviews is one critical step the federal government can take to accelerate job creation,” the White House said. “While many of these review processes are not under the control of the federal government — state, local, and tribal governments are partners in the effort, as well — the Obama administration is committed to reforming the federal permitting and environmental review process to ensure that it runs as efficiently as possible while continuing to protect the health and safety of all Americans, and to preserve opportunities for public participation in federal decision-making.”

The Little Missouri National Grassland is one of four National Grasslands that make up the Dakota Prairie National Grasslands, which covers more than 1.2 million acres in North Dakota and South Dakota.

In a report issued last week, the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness recommended measures to accelerate investment into “job-rich projects in infrastructure and energy development,” including upgrading the nation’s electric grid and creating a clean energy financing institution.

“As a nation, America needs to be ‘all-in’ on energy, opened to a balanced portfolio of innovative solutions for our energy needs,” the council said in its report. “Most reasonable observers understand that our future will entail a simultaneous reliance on older energy sources even as new and cleaner forms of energy become more widespread and economically viable.”

But the report short-changed the oil and gas industry and its potential to create jobs, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API).

“While today’s report acknowledges the continued need for oil and natural gas in our nation’s energy future, we believe it missed an opportunity to highlight the enormous job creation and economic growth potential from this sector,” said API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin.

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