WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mike Lee offered an amendment that would make federal permitting for oil and gas development more efficient and force the Bureau of Land Management to follow current law requiring all applications to be approved or denied applications within 30 days.
Lee said there is no justifiable reason for delays amounting to hundreds of days and that his bill, and the greater certainty it would bring, would improve economic and national security.
“This amendment would solve a problem that has severely hamstrung oil and gas development on federal lands, a problem that’s particularly severe in the western United States, and that involves excessive delays in the issuing of permits by the United States Bureau of Land Management,” Lee said of his amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act. “The result of all this red tape is a serious backlog of about 3,500 permits.”
“There are currently 113 million acres of federal lands open and accessible for oil and gas development. Much of this federal land contains abundant domestic energy resources,” Lee said on the Senate floor. “In Utah alone, we have hundreds of acres available for drilling, acres that are currently being held up by bureaucratic delays. My amendment would ensure that Utah and other states in the west that are dominated by federal land can access the energy, the vast wealth that lies within their borders and provide the United States with a reliable source of domestic energy production.”
“It makes sense economically and…from a national security standpoint, as well,” he said. “But in order for any of this to work, we have to have procedures in place to make sure that those people who choose to go out and develop federal land – that’s already been identified as suitable for oil and gas production within federal lands – that they have some modicum of due process, that they have some ability to predict what the procedural outcome is going to be, what set of procedures they’ll have to follow, and what kind of time line they will be facing as they approach this often lengthy process.”
Despite gaining the support of a bipartisan majority in the Senate, rules required the amendment to receive 60 votes in order to be added to the bill. The amendment failed 51 – 47.
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