Terry Applauds President Obama on Order to Expedite Federal Permitting Process - 5/17/13
Daines: New Fracking Rule Duplicative, Hinders Montana Energy Production - 5/17/13
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve Daines today released the following statement in response to the Department of Interior’s newly proposed rule on hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands:
“This rule is just another component in the Obama administration’s ongoing attack on American energy production. This is a duplicative and unnecessary regulation that will exasperate the drilling permit delays in Montana and impose new barriers to responsible energy development in our state, in turn hindering job creation and much needed revenue to support our schools, law enforcement, and infrastructure. Montana already has strong rules for hydraulic fracturing in place. We’ve shown time and time again that states—not the federal government—are best equipped to regulate hydraulic fracturing and address the unique needs that each state has. The Obama administration’s rule is yet another barrier to job creation and serves as nothing more than a ‘one-size-fits-none’ solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Last week, Daines called on Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to step back from the proposed rule, expressing concern that the proposed rule would negatively impact the current and future economic development in Montana. Daines’ letter may be found here.
Tipton: Hearing Underscores Keystone XL Pipeline's Benefits - 5/16/13
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, led by Chairman Scott Tipton (R-CO), today held a hearing appraising the benefits that many small businesses would reap from construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Committee heard about the economic benefits that will be available to small businesses from both the construction – and the long-term operation – of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In testimony, witnesses discussed how the pipeline would enhance our nation’s energy security, expand economic and job growth, and lower energy prices for Americans. According to a 2012 study by the NFIB, the “Cost of Natural Gas, Propane, Gasoline, Diesel, Fuel Oil” ranks as the third highest concern among small business owners.
Additionally, the pipeline’s construction would be a boon to many rural communities spanning the western United States along the northern and southern routes from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, bringing in local commercial activity and creating opportunities in fields that include numerous small business contractors. The project would boost the demand for various skilled labor occupations, and create an estimated 42,100 jobs.
“This hearing provided convincing testimony that this vital project is truly a keystone on which we can continue building our national prosperity,” said Chairman Tipton. “At a time when we should be focusing on economic growth and energy security, moving forward with this project is simply common sense. We have a rare opportunity to create thousands of jobs immediately, many through small businesses, and do so in a responsible way.”
Materials for the hearing are posted on the House Small Business Committee’s website HERE.
Brent Booker, Secretary Treasurer, Building and Construction Trades Department, Department, AFL-CIO, Washington, DC, said, “America's Building Trades Unions emphatically support the construction of the Keystone pipeline which will move oil from deposits in Canada to existing refineries in Texas, Oklahoma and the Midwest. Our unions have been actively involved with this project for almost 5 years now, and we are adamant in our belief that the economic, energy security, and national security benefits associated with the construction of this pipeline are too many and too significant to allow it to be derailed by a narrow and misguided political agenda being advanced by a small minority of ill-advised environmental groups… The choice is clear and, again, any further delay by the Obama Administration is unacceptable.”
Peter Bowe, President and CEO, Ellicott Dredges, Baltimore, MD, testifying on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers, said, “One way or the other, Canadians will eventually solve their distribution problems, with or without US governmental collaboration. To the extent this process is delayed, the producers will suffer economic loss, and their US suppliers, like Ellicott Dredges, will suffer as well, including diminished employment.”
Mat Brainerd, President, Brainerd Chemical Company, Tulsa, OK, testifying on behalf of the National Association of Chemical Distributors, said, “My industry would benefit from building the pipeline in three distinct ways. First, like many industries, chemical distribution benefits from economic growth generally. Second, building the pipeline would reduce our costs for aromatic and aliphatic chemicals, diesel and rail tank cars. Third, it would benefit the economics of hydraulic fracturing, which is an important market that many in our industry serve.”
Smith Statement on House Committee Passage of a Farm Bill - 5/16/13
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) made the following statement regarding passage of H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act in the House Committee on Agriculture:
“Passage of a responsible, long-term Farm Bill is among my highest priorities and yesterday’s markup in the Agriculture Committee was a step in the right direction. I look forward to reviewing the details of the bill passed by the committee and allowing the legislative process to work. Given the importance of farm policy to our agriculture economy, it is critical we not only pass a bill, but also to ensure we get the policy right.”
Chairman Hastings: Obama Administration's Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Imposes New Layers of Red-Tape, Duplicates States' Efforts - 5/16/13
Would Hinder American Energy Production, Job Creation
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 16, 2013 - House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) released the following statement on the proposed regulations of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands announced today by the Department of the Interior:
“The Obama Administration is once again choosing costly red tape at the expense of American jobs and American energy production. It is charging forward with new regulations on hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands that are burdensome, restrictive, unnecessary, and directly duplicate what states have been doing efficiently and effectively for over sixty years. States are able to carefully craft regulations to meet the specific needs of their states. Yet the Department seems committed to imposing a new ‘one-size-fits-all’ set of rules for hydraulic fracturing. This is nothing more than another roadblock by the Obama Administration in the way of job creation, lower energy prices, and American energy security. At a time when the Interior Department is currently canceling lease sales because they say they do not have the necessary funds, they should not be wasting federal dollars and resources implementing duplicative and unnecessary regulations.
“Furthermore, it is unacceptable that the Administration is only offering a mere 30-day public comment period on this proposed regulation that will have significant job, economic, and energy production impacts throughout the country. The public comment period should be no less than 120 days.”
For over two years, the Natural Resources Committee has conducted aggressive oversight of the Obama Administration’s pursuit of duplicative and potentially costly regulations of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. The Committee has held numerous hearings to learn from stakeholders about the job and economic impacts of federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing – most recently an oversight hearing on May 8, 2013 – and will conduct additional oversight of this proposed rule in June.
Denham: Committee Votes in Favor of Building Keystone XL Pipeline - 5/16/13
Washington, DC – The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today passed legislation on a bipartisan basis to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project long-delayed by the President that will create thousands of American jobs and increase domestic energy security.
“After more than four years of bureaucratic delays, this bill will finally allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, creating thousands of American jobs and displacing overseas imports with millions of barrels of safe and secure oil supplies,” said Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA). “This project has been studied more than any other project of its kind. Last Congress, the House voted six separate times to allow for construction of the pipeline. Today the Committee voted to move forward with more jobs and more energy security for Americans.”
The Keystone project will create 42,100 jobs, according to State Department estimates, and transport approximately 830,000 barrels of oil per day of secure North American oil supplies to U.S. refineries. According to the State Department, “non-OPEC Canadian crude oil supplies advance the energy security of the United States, given Canada’s close proximity, our free trade agreements, and our close bilateral relationship with this stable democracy.”
“This bill represents a significant opportunity to create American jobs and spur economic growth here in the United States,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. “I believe in an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy and this legislation is one piece of the puzzle to break America’s dependence on foreign oil. With an unemployment rate still near 8%, we must do what we can to support the creation of jobs while bolstering our domestic energy independence.”
The application to build Keystone XL was first filed in September 2008, and the State Department completed the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in August 2011 with a finding that the pipeline would have limited adverse environmental impacts. Construction was also found to be the preferred option among those studied, including the option to not undertake the project. However, the President has delayed approval of the project, and required the project sponsor to apply for a new route through Nebraska. The Governor of Nebraska approved the reroute earlier this year.
H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, ends the long, drawn-out process of delay by review and finally allows construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Bishop Calls New DOI Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing "Duplicative" - 5/16/13
WASHINGTON— The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) today releasedupdated draft regulations of hydraulic fracturing on public lands. The draft rule will only be open for public comment during the next 30 days. Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee, issued the following statement in response to the new draft regulations:
“The existing regulatory system already works. State-led efforts, as well as the practices of energy producers, have already proven to ensure the safe and responsible development of our nation’s oil and gas resources. Their record illustrates this point. These new rules are duplicative and serve only to hinder energy development. The Department of Interior would be better served directing its efforts toward ensuring that our country is self-sufficient with regards to energy supplies so we can stop importing from unstable foreign countries.”
Lummis: Presidential Power Grabs Continue - 5/16/13
Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy policy on federal land is heavy on regulation, light on energy production
WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior, Thursday, released its latest draft rules for the regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing on Public Lands. The new regulations at the federal level are added on top of, and may supersede existing state regulations. The new draft rules offer some additional flexibility, and give credit to states like Wyoming with excellent regulations by providing a process for exemption, or “variance,” from federal regulations. However, there is no assurance that Wyoming will be given an exemption, and it puts the federal government in full command of that decision.
“The Administration’s rules are a solution in search of a problem,” Rep. Lummis said. “On the very same day they release this rule claiming its necessity, a Department of the Interior representative could not name, when asked under oath, a single state that was doing a poor job of regulating hydraulic fracturing. In fact, the opposite is true, states are doing an exemplary job. The Administration comes right out and says that Wyoming is doing excellent work, and I appreciate them finally recognizing that truth. But then they turn around and require the State to defend its regulations again on perhaps a well by well basis. How is that efficient? How is that even logical? The draft rule appears to be yet another attempt by the federal government to unnecessarily expand its reach.”
Hastings Urges Obama Administration to Halt Proposed Endangered Species Listing - 5/15/13
Designation ignores proper input from the public, could impact private property, and cost local farmers and landowners thousands of dollars.
Washington, D.C., May 15 - Congressman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today sent a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Dan Ashe expressing concern over the USFWS hastily listing the White Bluffs Bladderpod under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and seeking to finalize a critical habitat designation next week. In the letter, Hastings urges Director Ashe to immediately halt efforts to enforce this designation, allow the public at least 60 days’ extension for meaningful comment, and to allow a public hearing for impacted farmers and landowners to express their concerns. Click here to read the full letter.
“Because the right to one’s private property is a fundamental right protected by our Constitution, when federal rules and regulations might impact such rights, as here, I firmly believe that extra caution should be exercised by the federal government,” wrote Hastings. “As you know, I have been highly critical of the Department of Interior’s negotiation of settlements behind closed doors with litigious groups that frequently petition and file Endangered Species Act-related lawsuits against the federal government, because they defy transparency and accountability, and raise questions regarding the Service’s ESA management priorities. These settlements also ignore input from states and local entities that are most affected by the potential ESA listing or critical habitat designation. Without a reasonable extension, it would confirm my criticism has been justified.”
Last month, Hastings called the listing “the latest example of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s reacting to self-imposed deadlines from a closed-door settlement with a litigious environmental group.” The White Bluffs Bladderpod is found on thousands of acres near the Hanford National Monument in Franklin County and Benton County, Washington. The critical habitat designation for the Bladderpod includes over 400 acres of privately-owned land as habitat, which could cost over $300,000 in lost irrigated agriculture value.
This announcement follows two court settlements in 2011 between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians that require the USFWS to determine whether 757 different plant or animal species should be listed as endangered before 2018. The Bladderpod, as well as the Umtanum Desert buckwheat species, was petitioned for Endangered Species Act listing by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2004.
As Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee with jurisdiction over the Endangered Species Act, Hastings has promised to closely examine actions to determine what improvements might be necessary to the Act to ensure the local community, private property, and the public’s right to access public lands are protected.
Daines Introduces Bill to Open Up Montana Hydropower Development - 5/15/13
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve Daines today introduced legislation to lift regulatory barriers that presently block new hydropower development in Montana.
The Bureau of Reclamation Conduit Hydropower Development Equity and Jobs Act will remove outdated federal statutes that currently prevent irrigation districts in Montana and other western states from developing hydropower on Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) canals, ditches, and conduits.
“This common sense legislation will immediately put people back to work in rural communities developing clean, renewable hydropower at no cost to taxpayers, while helping lower energy costs for Montanans,” Daines stated. “Montana’s irrigation districts provide valuable sources of water for our state’s pastures and farm land, but also hold tremendous potential for serving our state’s energy needs. It’s time for these outdated and senseless federal barriers to be removed so that this renewable energy source can be developed.”
There are 11 projects nationwide that would be immediately impacted by Daines’ bill, four of which are in Montana. Additionally, Daines’ bill, in combination with H.R. 678— the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, which recently passed through the House with overwhelming bipartisan support—could lead to development of at least 32 conduit hydropower sites on BOR conduits in Montana.
The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold a legislative hearing on Daines’ bill on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 10:00AM EST.
Impacted Montana Projects
Milk River Project – Located in north-central Montana, this irrigation district presently furnishes water for the irrigation of more than 120,000 acres of land between Havre and Nashua. According to a BOR March 2012 report, developing the Nelson North Canal of the Milk River Project for hydropower could generate 221,743 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. More information here.
Buffalo Rapids Project –This project lies along the Yellowstone River and provides irrigation water for 22,719 acres of land in the vicinity of Glendive, Fallon, and Terry. More information here.
Intake Project – Adjacent to the Lower Yellowstone Project, this irrigation district serves 823 acres in Dawson County. More information here.
Missoula Valley Project – Located near Frenchtown on bank of Clark Fork River, this project furnishes irrigation water from the Bitterroot River for about 800 acres of land. More information here.
Additional Background on Daines’ Bill
Current statute under the Water Conservation and Utilization Act of 1939 only allows the federal government to develop hydropower along BOR conduits and requires any revenues associated with that development to stay with the federal government. As a result, a non-federal developer is prohibited from developing this resource and even if it was allowed, it could not collect any revenues it receives from selling hydropower.
Numerous irrigation districts hold the potential to develop hydropower, but the outdated federal law hinders the development of these small hydropower projects, driving up planning costs significantly and sometimes rendering them economically unfeasible. As a result, American energy producers often forego developing clean energy on these man-made conduits, many of which are in Montana.
Daines’ bill would remove these statutory barriers, authorize non-federal hydropower development at some BOR projects, and generate lease revenues for the federal government while allowing irrigation districts to generate income from sold hydropower, providing funds that could be used for aging infrastructure repairs.
Additionally, the bill codifies the existing streamlined National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) categorical exclusion process, clears up multi-agency confusion to establish the BOR as the sole permitting authority for hydropower development on projects covered by the bill, offers a right of first refusal for small hydropower development to the entities operating the facility as they are most familiar with its details, and ensures that water supply for irrigation remains the primary purpose of the facilities and that hydropower developed on these facilities will be ancillary to providing water supplies.