Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with bipartisan support, a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 that reauthorizes and makes reforms to a successful U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) pilot office program set to expire in 2015. The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), representing companies that drill 95 percent of the nation’s oil and natural gas wells, is encouraged by Congress’ action on behalf of America’s independent oil and gas producers.
IPAA Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Political Affairs Dan Naatz said, “The House of Representatives took action to continue and expand upon a successful program that streamlines American energy production on federal land for the next 10 years. The continuation of this program will provide much-needed certainty for America’s independent oil and natural gas producers – companies with an average of 12 employees – with operations on federal lands. This bill helps reduce the undue backlog of oil and gas production permits on federal lands.
“Production of oil and natural gas on federal lands benefits the entire nation through new, good-paying American jobs, millions of dollars in additional revenue to the United States Treasury, and increased energy security. Especially in these uncertain times with price volatility, it is encouraging to have certainty in an expedited permitting process. This program serves an essential role as producers consider future American energy opportunities on federal lands. We’re hopeful the Senate approves this measure again in a timely fashion,” said Naatz.
The defense legislation now heads to the U.S. Senate for approval. In September, the Senate passed S. 2440, which is the bipartisan language included in the underlying defense legislation.
The BLM pilot office program, authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, was designed to streamline operations and help the Department of the Interior to deal with a backlog of oil and gas permit applications while balancing other duties. The legislative provision passed by the House today would reauthorize and expand the program by providing additional flexibility and allowing the agency to create new project offices, accounting for the changing industry priorities as new oil and natural gas plays open up on federal lands. The pilot office program has broad industry support, as well as the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Reauthorizing the BLM pilot office program has been one of IPAA’s highest priorities in 2014. Below is a list of IPAA-led initiatives regarding the BLM pilot project over the past year:
- Worked with Congressman Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) office to formulate ideas on how to best approach program reauthorization
- Praised efforts of joint, bipartisan letter from Rep. Rob Bishop and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) to the Secretary of the Interior requesting reauthorization of the BLM pilot office program
- Formed a working group with Western Energy Alliance, US Oil & Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, and interested stakeholders to discuss what industry would like to see in a program reauthorization bill
March to June:
- Held educational meetings with Senator Udall and Congressman Bishop’s offices on the importance of introducing legislation
- Senators Udall and John Barrasso (R-WY) introduce the bipartisan BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014 (S. 2440) with the full support of IPAA
- Joined American Petroleum Institute, US Oil & Gas Association, and Western Energy Alliance in sending a letter to Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Mary Landrieu (D-LA) expressing support for S. 2440 and urging consideration
- Submitted testimony for the record in support of S. 2440 for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing on “Breaking the Logjam at BLM: Examining Ways to More Efficiently Process Permits for Energy Production on Federal Lands”
- S. 2440 passes out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by unanimous consent
- Praised the U.S. Senate for acting swiftly and passing S. 2440 by unanimous consent
- Organized numerous meetings, in association with American Petroleum Institute and Western Energy Alliance, with House Leadership and Members of the House Natural Resources and Appropriations Committees urging passage of S. 2440
- Joined seven energy trade groups on a letter to Speaker John Boehner urging the House of Representatives to consider S. 2440, the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014
- IPAA strongly urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, which includes language to reauthorize the BLM pilot office program