H. R. 4383
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 18, 2012
Mr. Lamborn introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To streamline the application for permits to drill process and increase funds for energy project permit processing, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Streamlining Permitting of American
Energy Act of 2012.
Table of contents
The table of contents for this Act is as follows:
Sec. 1. Short title.
Sec. 2. Table of contents.
Title I—Application for Permits to Drill Process Reform
Sec. 101. Permit to drill application timeline.
Sec. 102. Solar and wind right-of-way rental reform.
Title II—Administrative Protest Documentation Reform
Sec. 201. Administrative protest documentation reform.
Title III—Permit Streamlining
Sec. 301. Improve Federal energy permit coordination.
Sec. 302. Administration of current law.
Title IV—Judicial Review
Sec. 401. Definitions.
Sec. 402. Exclusive venue for certain civil actions relating to covered energy projects.
Sec. 403. Timely filing.
Sec. 404. Expedition in hearing and determining the action.
Sec. 405. Standard of review.
Sec. 406. Limitation on injunction and prospective relief.
Sec. 407. Limitation on attorneys’ fees.
Sec. 408. Legal standing.
Application for Permits to Drill Process Reform
Permit to drill application timeline
Notwithstanding section 17(p)(2) of the Mineral Leasing Act (30 U.S.C. 226(p)(2)) is amended to read as follows:
Applications for permits to drill reform and process
The Secretary shall decide whether to issue a permit to drill within 30 days after receiving an application for the permit. The Secretary may extend such period for up to 2 periods of 15 days each, if the Secretary has given written notice of the delay to the applicant. The notice shall be in the form of a letter from the Secretary or a designee of the Secretary, and shall include the names and titles of the persons processing the application, the specific reasons for the delay, and a specific date a final decision on the application is expected.
Notice of reasons for denial
If the application is denied, the Secretary shall provide the applicant—
in writing, clear and comprehensive reasons why the application was not accepted and detailed information concerning any deficiencies; and
an opportunity to remedy any deficiencies.
Application deemed approved
If the Secretary has not made a decision on the application by the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date the application is received by the Secretary, the application is deemed approved, except in cases in which existing reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 or Endangered Species Act of 1973 are incomplete.
Denial of permit
If the Secretary decides not to issue a permit to drill in accordance with subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall—
provide to the applicant a description of the reasons for the denial of the permit;
allow the applicant to resubmit an application for a permit to drill during the 10-day period beginning on the date of the receipt of the description by the applicant; and
issue or deny any resubmitted application not later than 10 days after the date the application is submitted to the Secretary.
Notwithstanding any other law, the Secretary shall collect a single $6,500 permit processing fee per application from each applicant at the time the decision is made whether or not to issue a permit under subparagraph (A).
Treatment of permit processing fee
Of all fees collected under this paragraph, 50 percent shall be transferred to the field office where they are collected and used to process protests, leases, and permits under this Act subject to appropriations.
Solar and wind right-of-way rental reform
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, each fiscal year, of fees collected as annual wind energy and solar energy right-of-way authorization fees required under section 504(g) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1764(g)), 50 percent shall be transferred to the field office where they are collected and used to process permits, right-of-way applications, and other activities necessary for renewable energy development subject to appropriations.
Administrative Protest Documentation Reform
Administrative protest documentation reform
Section 17(p) of the Mineral Leasing Act (30 U.S.C. 226(p)) is further amended by adding at the end the following:
The Secretary shall collect a $5,000 documentation fee to accompany each protest for a lease, right of way, or application for permit to drill.
Treatment of fees
Of all fees collected under this paragraph, 50 percent shall remain in the field office where they are collected and used to process protests subject to appropriations.
Improve Federal energy permit coordination
Secretary of the Interior (referred to in this section as the
Secretary) shall establish a Federal Permit Streamlining Project
(referred to in this section as the
Project) in every Bureau of
Land Management Field office with responsibility for permitting energy projects
on Federal land.
Memorandum of understanding
Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall enter into a memorandum of understanding for purposes of this section with—
the Secretary of Agriculture;
the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and
the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Secretary may request that the Governor of any State with energy projects on Federal lands to be a signatory to the memorandum of understanding.
Designation of qualified staff
Not later than 30 days after the date of the signing of the memorandum of understanding under subsection (b), all Federal signatory parties shall, if appropriate, assign to each of the field offices an employee who has expertise in the regulatory issues relating to the office in which the employee is employed, including, as applicable, particular expertise in—
the consultations and the preparation of biological opinions under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1536);
permits under section 404 of Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1344);
regulatory matters under the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.);
planning under the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 472a et seq.); and
the preparation of analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).
Each employee assigned under paragraph (1) shall—
not later than 90 days after the date of assignment, report to the Bureau of Land Management Field Managers in the office to which the employee is assigned;
be responsible for all issues relating to the jurisdiction of the project permitting home office or agency of the employee; and
participate as part of the team of personnel working on proposed energy projects, planning, and environmental analyses on Federal lands.
The Secretary shall assign to each field office identified in subsection (a) any additional personnel that are necessary to ensure the effective implementation of programs administered by the field offices, including inspection and enforcement relating to energy development on Federal land, in accordance with the multiple use mandate of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.).
Funding for the additional personnel shall come from the Department of the Interior reforms identified in sections 101, 102, and 201.
Nothing in this section affects—
the operation of any Federal or State law; or
any delegation of authority made by the head of a Federal agency whose employees are participating in the Project.
For purposes of this section the term energy projects includes oil, natural gas, coal, and other energy projects as defined by the Secretary.
Administration of current law
Notwithstanding any other law, the Secretary of the Interior shall not require a finding of extraordinary circumstances in administering section 390 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
In this Act—
the term covered civil action means a civil action containing a claim under section 702 of title 5, United States Code, regarding agency action (as defined for the purposes of that section) affecting a covered energy project on Federal lands of the United States; and
the term covered energy project means the leasing of Federal lands of the United States for the exploration, development, production, processing, or transmission of oil, natural gas, wind, or any other source of energy, and any action under such a lease, except that the term does not include any disputes between the parties to a lease regarding the obligations under such lease, including regarding any alleged breach of the lease.
Exclusive venue for certain civil actions relating to covered energy projects
Venue for any covered civil action shall lie in the district court where the project or leases exist or are proposed.
To ensure timely redress by the courts, a covered civil action must be filed no later than the end of the 90-day period beginning on the date of the final Federal agency action to which it relates.
Expedition in hearing and determining the action
The court shall endeavor to hear and determine any covered civil action as expeditiously as possible.
Standard of review
In any judicial review of a covered civil action, administrative findings and conclusions relating to the challenged Federal action or decision shall be presumed to be correct, and the presumption may be rebutted only by the preponderance of the evidence contained in the administrative record.
Limitation on injunction and prospective relief
In a covered civil action, the court shall not grant or approve any prospective relief unless the court finds that such relief is narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of a legal requirement, and is the least intrusive means necessary to correct that violation. In addition, courts shall limit the duration of preliminary injunctions to halt covered energy projects to no more than 60 days, unless the court finds clear reasons to extend the injunction. In such cases of extensions, such extensions shall only be in 30-day increments and shall require action by the court to renew the injunction.
Limitation on attorneys’ fees
Sections 504 of title 5, United States Code, and 2412 of title 28, United States Code, (together commonly called the Equal Access to Justice Act) do not apply to a covered civil action, nor shall any party in such a covered civil action receive payment from the Federal Government for their attorneys’ fees, expenses, and other court costs.
Challengers filing appeals with the Department of the Interior Board of Land Appeals shall meet the same standing requirements as challengers before a United States district court.