Barton offers bill to establish federal energy permit coordinator

The ranking minority member of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced legislation on Sept. 24 which would establish a federal energy permit coordinator to help applications and reviews move more quickly.

The ranking minority member of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced legislation on Sept. 24 which would establish a federal energy permit coordinator to help applications and reviews move more quickly.

"This is about getting the federal permitting process to work for the people who need energy that they can afford so they can get to work and school. It is not for the political activists, special interests and government bureaucrats who run that process now," said Rep. Joe Barton (D-Tex.).

Called the American Cooperation for Energy (ACE) Act, HR 7032 would establish an energy permit coordinator appointed by the president who would be responsible for coordinating permit schedules of all federal agencies involved in oil and gas permits on public lands, he explained.

He said that the coordinator would have permanent authority to establish regional offices staffed by employees of all relevant permitting agencies. The offices would establish the fastest schedule possible for processing permit applications so that delays would be reduced while preserving environmental safeguards, he indicated.

"If an agency falls behind schedule, or if the coordinator fails to set the most efficient schedule, the applicant may seek expedited relief in federal court. In other words, agencies will no longer be allowed to just sit on the paperwork as a way to placate political activists," Barton said.

He noted that the 2005 Energy Policy Act set up temporary offices staffed by personnel from several agencies to help improve inter-agency communication. "This teamwork has improved permitting, but more discipline in the administrative process, the structure provided in the ACE Act, can benefit all consumers," he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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