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Hoeven, Heitkamp team up on legislation

In a joint announcement Thursday, U.S. Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota introduced legislation that would help streamline oil and gas permitting on federal lands in western North Dakota.

The Bureau of Land Management Streamlining Act would expand the service area of the Miles City, Mont., BLM office to include North Dakota, which would therefore change the name of the office to "Montana/Dakotas State."

"Currently, it takes about 180 to 270 days to permit an oil well on BLM land in North Dakota, compared to only about 10 days on private lands," Hoeven stated. "This is a no-cost solution that will help to make the federal permitting process more efficient."

The BLM field office in Miles City is part of the Federal Permit Streamling Pilot Project, established in 2005. The project was designed to improve the coordination of oil and gas permitting on federal lands, according to a release.

"This bill meets a need that both BLM and the industry in western North Dakota have been clamoring for," Heitkamp said. "At no additional cost to the taxpayer, this bill will improve the efficiency of a process that has become severely backlogged due to the incredible development in the Bakken Formation."