U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R) Thursday introduced legislation to empower states to manage oil and gas production on federal lands as the Republican-controlled Congress aims to ease energy development on public property.
The new legislation, the “Opportunities for the Nation and States to Harness Onshore Resources for Energy Act” or “ONSHORE Act,” mirrors a portion of energy legislation approved by the House Natural Resources Committee last fall.
Under Barrasso’s proposal, the Interior Department could allow states to oversee oil and gas development on federal tracts so long as those states can demonstrate they would be “at least as effective as the Secretary in issuing APDs [applications for permit to drill] or in approving drilling plans, as applicable.”
Like its House counterpart, the legislation would prohibit Interior from enforcing federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing when states have their own rules and would require the department to resolve any protests to mineral leases within 60 days of payment.
Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who sponsored the House measure, H.R. 4239, praised the Senate legislation.
“I applaud Senator Barrasso for introducing companion legislation to spur greater development of the vast energy resources of America’s federal estate,” Bishop said. “This bill will not only strengthen the nation’s energy security, it will increase revenues to states, support critical infrastructure projects and fund essential public services. I look forward to working with the Senate to get this bicameral legislation signed into law.”
Barrasso’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources is holding a hearing to review the Trump administration’s attempts to ease restrictions on energy extraction on public lands, particularly for oil, gas and coal producers.
“While the Department has been proactive in addressing regulatory burdens that discourage energy production, much work remains in getting bureaucracy out of the way of responsibly and timely development of our domestic resources,” subcommittee Chairman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said in his opening remarks.
Reprinted from E&E News with permission. Copyright 2018. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net.