WASHINGTON, D.C. - During a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) continued his effort to strengthen New Mexico's energy economy by improving the process of energy production permits on federal public land.
The committee, of which Senator Heinrich is a member, considered two bipartisan proposals -- S. 279, the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act, and S.2440, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Permit Processing Improvement Act. Both bills are cosponsored by Senator Heinrich.
"The Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act would modernize the leasing of federal public lands for development of solar and wind energy" said Sen. Heinrich. "Transitioning to clean energy sources would help create jobs in New Mexico and make America more energy independent. This bill would also share the revenues from royalties between the federal, state, and county governments, with part of the federal share going to a dedicated conservation fund for wildlife habitat conservation."
Senator Heinrich continued, "The BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act would help continue streamlining the oil and gas drilling permit process while strengthening a review system that helps meet environmental and safety standards. The oil and gas industry in New Mexico supports thousands of jobs and makes significant annual contributions to our state's economy. This program has a proven track record of success in Farmington and Carlsbad, and it demonstrates our commitment to investing in New Mexico's energy future."
The Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), would make it easier for wind and solar energy developers to move forward with their projects on appropriate public lands, and it creates a fund to ensure that wildlife habitat and other important areas can be protected to offset impacts associated with energy development.
The BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and John Barrasso (R-WY), would extend a pilot program that has helped BLM balance complex demands, including oil and gas permitting and environmental management in New Mexico and other parts of the West. The pilot program has helped streamline operations in BLM field offices in Farmington and Carlsbad, New Mexico. The committee received testimony from Concho Resources, New Mexico's top oil producer that strongly supports the proposal.
During the hearing, Senator Heinrich discussed the oil and gas industry in New Mexico and recognized how successful the the BLM pilot program is in the state. He questioned Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze on how reauthorization of the pilot program would impact staff funding in New Mexico's BLM state offices. Senator Heinrich also discussed with Director Kornze how revenues from energy projects on federal lands are used.