Senator John Hoeven today spoke at the N.D. Association of Oil and Gas Counties Annual Meeting to outline Senate legislation he is working on to promote domestic energy production, reduce energy costs and help make the nation energy independent, as well as the new transportation bill passed by Congress this summer, which is helping to build vital infrastructure across North Dakota.
The Domestic Energy and Jobs Act and Empower States Act will help to create more energy with better environmental stewardship. At the same time, the new highway bill, Moving Ahead in the 21st Century, will help to build critical infrastructure in places like western North Dakota, where domestic oil and gas production is growing rapidly.
"These three bills address some of the most pressing needs of our state and our nation -- energy, jobs, economic growth and infrastructure," Hoeven said. "They can help lead our country to true energy independence within five to seven years, and do so with good environmental stewardship. They run the gamut, from developing more energy with more effective energy development strategies to building vital infrastructure to help support growth in energy producing regions of our country."
The Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (DEJA)
DEJA is a comprehensive package of 13 diverse energy bills, addressing both traditional and renewable development, designed to streamline and simplify regulations, boost domestic energy supplies, build American energy infrastructure, and safeguard America's supply of critical minerals used in modern high-tech manufactured products such as cell phones and computers.
The bill focuses on key areas to help guide the nation toward true energy independence. Those include establishing an American energy development plan, just as we did in North Dakota with the Empower ND initiative. It requires the Interior Secretary to establish an "all-of-the-above" energy program for federal lands by reviewing the nation's energy needs and then establishing goals for federal land energy production to meet those needs from all energy sources, including oil, natural gas, coal and renewables
The measure also approves the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline program, which will bring 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, including 100,000 barrel a day from North Dakota's Bakken fields. In addition, DEJA freezes EPA rulemaking and studies the impact proposed rules will have on the price of gasoline and diesel fuels, providing for a better understanding of the costs and consequences of regulations will have on producers, consumers and businesses..
The Empower States Act
The Empower States Act helps to ensure that states retain the right to manage hydraulic fracturing and gives them the ability to respond first to any violation. The individual states are the first and best responders to oil and gas issues because they know their land and have a stake in protecting their environment. States have been successful in developing oil and gas production with good environmental stewardship, he said.
Under the legislation, the Environmental Protection Agency must involve states in drafting new regulations, and ensure that the rule doesn't result in harm to jobs, consumers, the economy or revenues losses to a state's general fund or education fund, which benefit from energy production. The EPA can intervene only if it can show harm to health or the environment.
Moving Ahead in the 21st Century (MAP-21)
MAP-21, which passed both houses of Congress and was signed by the president, provides funding for North Dakota in the amount of $236 million in Fiscal Year 2012, $240 million in Fiscal Year 2013 and $242.5 million in Fiscal Year 2014 under the federal highway program. The state will also receive an additional $41.3 million over the three years for public transit programs. Over three years, this legislation provides a total of $760 million to North Dakota for essential transportation infrastructure.
Combined with $317 million in Emergency Road Funding Congress passed late last year, North Dakota will receive a record $1.08 billion over a three-year period to address highway construction needs statewide, flood recovery efforts and infrastructure projects in Western North Dakota.
Importantly for North Dakota, the measure also expedites the environmental review process for some highway projects to improve the state's ability to move forward with needed infrastructure by using categorical exclusions, projects that have been determined by the federal DOT to have no significant impacts, and therefore don't require an environmental impact statement. The legislation also streamlines the number of highway programs from about 90 to 30 to create greater efficiencies and reduce administrative costs, and gives states more flexibility to allocate funding where most needed.