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115th Congress }                                          { REPORT
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
  2d Session   }                                          { 115-955

======================================================================
 
                      COMMON SENSE PERMITTING ACT

                                _______
                                

 September 20, 2018.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Bishop of Utah, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted 
                             the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 6106]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 6106) to amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to 
clarify the authorized categorical exclusions and authorize 
additional categorical exclusions to streamline the oil and gas 
permitting process, and for other purposes, having considered 
the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and 
recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Common Sense Permitting Act''.

SEC. 2. AMENDMENTS TO THE ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005.

  Section 390 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, (42 U.S.C. 15942) is 
amended to read as follows:

``SEC. 390. NEPA REVIEW.

  ``(a) NEPA Review.--Action by the Secretary of the Interior in 
managing the public lands, or the Secretary of Agriculture in managing 
National Forest System Lands, with respect to any of the activities 
described in subsection (d) shall be categorically excluded from any 
further analysis and documentation under the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) if the activity is 
conducted pursuant to the Mineral Leasing Act (30 U.S.C. 181 et seq.) 
for the purpose of exploration or development of oil or gas.
  ``(b) Categorical Exclusion.--Use of a categorical exclusion created 
in this section--
          ``(1) shall not require a finding of no extraordinary 
        circumstances; and
          ``(2) shall be effective for the full term of the authorized 
        permit or approval.
  ``(c) Application.--This section shall not apply to an action of the 
Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture on Indian 
lands or resources managed in trust for the benefit of Indian Tribes.
  ``(d) Activities Described.--The activities referred to in subsection 
(a) are:
          ``(1) Reinstating a lease pursuant to section 31 of the 
        Mineral Leasing Act (30 U.S.C. 188).
          ``(2) The following activities, provided that any new surface 
        disturbance is contiguous with the footprint of the original 
        authorization and does not exceed 20 acres or the acreage 
        evaluated in a document previously prepared under section 
        102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 
        U.S.C. 4332(2)(C)) with respect to such activity, whichever is 
        greater:
                  ``(A) Drilling oil or gas wells at a well pad site at 
                which drilling has occurred previously.
                  ``(B) Expansion of an existing oil or gas well pad 
                site to accommodate additional wells.
                  ``(C) Expansion or modification of an existing oil or 
                gas well pad site, road, pipeline, facilities, or 
                utilities submitted in a sundry notice.
          ``(3) Drilling of oil and gas wells at new well pad sites, 
        provided that the new surface disturbance does not exceed 20 
        acres or the acreage evaluated in a document previously 
        prepared under section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental 
        Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C)) with respect to such 
        activity, whichever is greater.
          ``(4) Construction or realignment of a road, pipeline, or 
        utilities within an existing right-of-way or within a right-of-
        way corridor established in a land use plan.
          ``(5) The following activities when conducted from non-
        Federal surface into federally owned minerals, provided that 
        the operator submits to the Secretary concerned certification 
        of a surface use agreement with the non-Federal landowner:
                  ``(A) Drilling oil or gas wells at a well pad site at 
                which drilling has occurred previously.
                  ``(B) Expansion of an existing oil or gas well pad 
                site to accommodate additional wells.
                  ``(C) Expansion or modification of an existing oil or 
                gas well pad site, road, pipeline, facilities or 
                utilities submitted in a sundry notice.
          ``(6) Drilling of oil or gas wells from non-Federal surface 
        and non-Federal subsurface into Federal mineral estate.
          ``(7) Construction of up to 1 mile of new road on Federal or 
        non-Federal surface, not to exceed 2 miles in total.
          ``(8) Construction of up to 3 miles of individual pipelines 
        or utilities, regardless of surface ownership.''.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of H.R. 6106 is to amend the Energy Policy Act 
of 2005 to clarify the authorized categorical exclusions and 
authorize additional categorical exclusions to streamline the 
oil and gas permitting process.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) defines a 
categorical exclusion as ``a category of actions which do not 
individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the 
human environment . . . and for which, therefore, neither an 
environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement 
is required.''\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\40 CFR 1508.4.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 390 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized 
five categorical exclusions under the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) for the 
exploration and development of oil and gas.\2\ Specifically, 
these categorical exclusions are as follows:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\Public Law 109-58.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
          (1) Individual surface disturbances of less than 5 
        acres so long as the total surface disturbance on the 
        lease is not greater than 150 acres and site-specific 
        analysis in a document prepared pursuant to NEPA has 
        been previously completed.
          (2) Drilling an oil or gas well at a location or well 
        pad site at which drilling has occurred previously 
        within 5 years prior to the date of spudding the well.
          (3) Drilling an oil or gas well within a developed 
        field for which an approved land use plan or any 
        environmental document prepared pursuant to NEPA 
        analyzed such drilling as a reasonably foreseeable 
        activity, so long as such plan or document was approved 
        within 5 years prior to the date of spudding the well.
          (4) Placement of a pipeline in an approved right-of-
        way corridor, so long as the corridor was approved 
        within 5 years prior to the date of placement of the 
        pipeline.
          (5) Maintenance of a minor activity, other than any 
        construction or major renovation or a building or 
        facility.
    Under the Obama Administration, the Department of the 
Interior often chose not to grant categorical exclusions when 
processing applications for permits to drill or granting 
rights-of-way, even when the proposed drilling operations or 
pipeline placement would qualify for such designations under 
the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Congress enacted these 
categorical exclusions to streamline the permitting process for 
certain activities that would modify or slightly expand 
existing approved operations. Authorizing such activities would 
have an insignificant impact on the environment; thus 
additional analysis under NEPA is not needed to evaluate the 
merits of the proposed action.
    While Congress intended to streamline the permitting 
process by excluding certain permit applications from higher 
thresholds of NEPA analysis, the previous Administration's 
decision not to utilize these categorical exclusions 
exacerbated delays in the permitting process by requiring 
extensive NEPA analysis on each and every permit application 
submitted to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
    This legislation would clarify the language in the Energy 
Policy Act of 2005 to ensure that the Secretary of the Interior 
utilizes the authorized categorical exclusions in processing 
permit applications when applicable. If a proposed activity 
included in an application for permit to drill or right-of-way 
application qualifies for a categorical exclusion, BLM shall 
not conduct further analysis under NEPA before approving the 
application.
    This legislation would also modify the existing categorical 
exclusions and authorize additional categorical exclusions to 
further streamline the permitting process for oil and gas 
activities. This bill will authorize categorical exclusions for 
activities that modify or expand existing operations in a 
limited manner, activities that take place where drilling has 
already occurred, as well as new activities that were 
anticipated in previous analyses under NEPA or will result in 
minimal surface disturbance.

                            Committee Action

    H.R. 6106 was introduced on June 14, 2018, by Congressman 
Stevan Pearce (R-NM). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Natural Resources. On June 20, 2018, the Natural Resources 
Committee met to consider the bill. Congressman Pearce offered 
an amendment designated #1; it was adopted by voice vote. 
Congresswoman Nanette Barragan (D-CA) offered an amendment 
designated 042; it was not adopted by a roll call vote of 17 
yeas and 22 nays, as follows:


    Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) offered an amendment 
designated 001; it was not adopted by a roll call vote of 18 
yeas and 22 nays, as follows:


    Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY) offered an 
amendment designated 002; it was not adopted by a roll call 
vote of 18 yeas and 22 nays, as follows:


    No further amendments were offered and the bill, as 
amended, was ordered favorably reported to the House of 
Representatives by a roll call vote of 22 yeas and 18 nays, as 
follows:


            Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

      Compliance With House Rule XIII and Congressional Budget Act

    1. Cost of Legislation and the Congressional Budget Act. 
With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) and (3) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
sections 308(a) and 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974, the Committee has received the following estimate for the 
bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                Washington, DC, September 12, 2018.
Hon. Rob Bishop,
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 6106, the Common 
Sense Permitting Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Kim Cawley.
            Sincerely,
                                                Keith Hall,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 6106--Common Sense Permitting Act

    Summary: H.R. 6106 would allow the Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM) to expedite the approval of applications for 
permits to drill (APDs) for oil and gas on federal lands by 
excluding certain environmental analyses currently required by 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) from the 
application process. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 6106 
would accelerate oil and gas production on federal lands and 
increase royalty payments to the BLM. However, using 
information provided by the BLM and the Energy Information 
Administration (EIA), CBO estimates that enacting the bill 
would have no significant net effect on the federal budget over 
the 2019-2028 period.
    Enacting H.R. 6106 would affect direct spending; therefore, 
pay-as-you-go procedures apply. The bill would not affect 
revenues.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 6106 would not increase 
net direct spending by more than $2.5 billion or on-budget 
deficits by more than $5 billion in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2029.
    H.R. 6106 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA).
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary effect of H.R. 6106 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of the legislation fall within budget function 300 
(natural resources and environment).

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                          By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                           -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             2018    2019    2020      2021       2022       2023       2024       2025       2026       2027       2028    2019-2023  2019-2028
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                          INCREASES OR DECREASES (-) IN DIRECT SPENDING
 
Oil and Gas Royalties:
    Estimated Budget Authority............................       0     -35     -60        -95       -120        -30         35         90        125         60         30       -340          0
    Estimated Outlays.....................................       0     -35     -60        -95       -120        -30         35         90        125         60         30       -340          0
Payments to States:
    Estimated Budget Authority............................       0      17      29         47         59         15        -17        -44        -61        -29        -15        167          0
    Estimated Outlays.....................................       0      17      29         47         59         15        -17        -44        -61        -29        -15        167          0
    Total Changes:
        Estimated Budget Authority........................       0     -18     -31        -48        -61        -15         18         46         64         31         15       -173          0
        Estimated Outlays.................................       0     -18     -31        -48        -61        -15         18         46         64         31         15       -173          0
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Components may not sum to totals because of rounding.

    Basis of estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes that the 
legislation will be enacted near the end of 2018.

Direct Spending

    H.R. 6106 would authorize the BLM to approve APDs for oil 
and gas development on federal lands without requiring 
producers to undertake certain environmental analyses listed in 
NEPA. Using information provided by the BLM, CBO estimates that 
forgoing those analyses would reduce the time required to 
approve APDs by about 25 days, which CBO expects would 
accelerate oil and gas production on federal lands.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\In 2017, the BLM's APD approval process required about 120 days, 
on average: Drilling operators spent about 70 days on preparation, and 
review and approval took about 50 days.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Using information from the BLM and EIA, CBO estimates that 
at the beginning of 2019, the BLM will have about 2,300 pending 
APDs. CBO expects that under current law the BLM would reduce 
the backlog of APDs carried over each year to about 600 by the 
end of 2026, mostly for anticipated submissions of APDs late in 
fiscal year 2025. Under the bill, CBO expects that expediting 
the process would allow the agency to reduce the backlog to 
roughly 600 APDs by 2023, thus reaching the same backlog in 
about half the time. CBO estimates that accelerating the 
production of oil and gas by expediting APDs would result in a 
small net loss of royalty receipts to the government because 
production would shift from later years, when oil and gas 
prices are projected to be higher, to an earlier period, when 
lower prices are anticipated. As a result, CBO expects that oil 
and gas production would accelerate, thus increasing payments 
of associated royalties to the federal government by $335 
million over the 2019-2023 period; royalties would decline by 
$340 million over the 2024-2028 period.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\CBO estimates that gross royalty payments to the Department of 
the Interior will total about $10 billion over the 2019-2023 period and 
$11.5 billion over the 2024-2028 period. Most of those royalties will 
come from production from wells drilled before 2019.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    However, CBO expects that the small loss would be offset by 
shifting more receipts into 2019. CBO estimates that reducing 
the time required for the BLM to approve APDs by 25 days would 
accelerate production of oil and gas under APDs submitted each 
year by as many as 10 days. Because for the purposes of this 
estimate CBO expects that each year a roughly equal amount of 
production would be shifted into the previous fiscal year, the 
federal government would receive a net increase in royalties in 
2019. Based on its estimates of about $800 per day in royalties 
from the 1,350 new wells expected to begin production in 2019, 
CBO anticipates that enacting H.R. 6106 would increase 
royalties to the federal government by about $5 million for the 
year.

Uncertainty

    CBO aims to produce estimates that generally reflect the 
middle of a range of the most likely budgetary outcomes that 
would result if legislation was enacted. In estimating that 
range of effects, CBO had to account for two major sources of 
uncertainty.
    First, although CBO cannot predict future oil and gas 
prices precisely, this estimate relies on a projected path for 
the 2019-2028 period that is part of the agency's economic 
forecast. If prices fall, the forward shift in the timing of 
oil and gas production would result in a net increase in 
royalties because production volume would be higher when prices 
were higher and lower when prices were lower. Conversely, if 
prices increase faster or reach higher amounts than CBO 
projects, accelerating oil and gas production would result in a 
net reduction in royalties. Because APD submissions are 
generally correlated with oil and gas prices, prices that are 
significantly higher or lower than CBO projects would affect 
the number of applications the BLM received, which would affect 
how quickly it could reduce the backlog of pending APDs.
    A second source of uncertainty concerns the lack of 
information on the timing and quantity of oil and gas 
production from particular wells in many states where such 
drilling occurs on federal lands. CBO drew on production data 
from certain other states along with information on royalties 
from those states and others to estimate the bill's total 
effect on royalties. Although obtaining more precise 
information could have strengthened CBO's estimates of 
royalties under H.R. 6106, CBO does not expect that the 
informationwould have significantly changed its estimate of the 
net budgetary effect of enacting H.R. 6106, given the same projected 
price paths for oil and gas.
    Pay-As-You-Go considerations: The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go 
Act of 2010 establishes budget-reporting and enforcement 
procedures for legislation affecting direct spending or 
revenues. The net changes in outlays that are subject to those 
pay-as-you-go procedures are shown in the following table.

CBO ESTIMATE OF PAY-AS-YOU-GO EFFECTS FOR H.R. 6106, THE COMMON SENSE PERMITTING ACT, AS ORDERED REPORTED BY THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES ON
                                                                      JUNE 20, 2018
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                               By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                            ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              2018   2019    2020    2021    2022    2023    2024    2025    2026    2027    2028   2018-2023  2018-2028
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       NET INCREASE OR DECREASE (-) IN THE DEFICIT
 
Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Effect.............      0     -18     -31     -48     -61     -15      18      46      64      31      15      -173          0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Increase in long-term direct spending and deficits: CBO 
estimates that enacting H.R. 6106 would not increase net direct 
spending by more than $2.5 billion or on-budget deficits by 
more than $5 billion in any of the four consecutive 10-year 
periods beginning in 2029.
    Mandates: H.R. 6106 contains no intergovernmental or 
private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Kim Cawley; Mandates: 
Jon Sperl.
    Estimate reviewed by: H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis; Theresa A. Gullo, Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to amend the Energy Policy Act of 
2005 to clarify the authorized categorical exclusions and 
authorize additional categorical exclusions to streamline the 
oil and gas permitting process.

                           Earmark Statement

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    Compliance With Public Law 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       Compliance With H. Res. 5

    Directed Rule Making. This bill does not contain any 
directed rule makings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.

                Preemption of State, Local or Tribal Law

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, and existing law in which no 
change is proposed is shown in roman):

                       ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005




           *       *       *       *       *       *       *
TITLE III--OIL AND GAS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Subtitle G--Miscellaneous

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


[SEC. 390. NEPA REVIEW.

  [(a) NEPA Review.--Action by the Secretary of the Interior in 
managing the public lands, or the Secretary of Agriculture in 
managing National Forest System Lands, with respect to any of 
the activities described in subsection (b) shall be subject to 
a rebuttable presumption that the use of a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(NEPA) would apply if the activity is conducted pursuant to the 
Mineral Leasing Act for the purpose of exploration or 
development of oil or gas.
  [(b) Activities Described.--The activities referred to in 
subsection (a) are the following:
          [(1) Individual surface disturbances of less than 5 
        acres so long as the total surface disturbance on the 
        lease is not greater than 150 acres and site-specific 
        analysis in a document prepared pursuant to NEPA has 
        been previously completed.
          [(2) Drilling an oil or gas well at a location or 
        well pad site at which drilling has occurred previously 
        within 5 years prior to the date of spudding the well.
          [(3) Drilling an oil or gas well within a developed 
        field for which an approved land use plan or any 
        environmental document prepared pursuant to NEPA 
        analyzed such drilling as a reasonably foreseeable 
        activity, so long as such plan or document was approved 
        within 5 years prior to the date of spudding the well.
          [(4) Placement of a pipeline in an approved right-of-
        way corridor, so long as the corridor was approved 
        within 5 years prior to the date of placement of the 
        pipeline.
          [(5) Maintenance of a minor activity, other than any 
        construction or major renovation or a building or 
        facility.]

SEC. 390. NEPA REVIEW.

  (a) NEPA Review.--Action by the Secretary of the Interior in 
managing the public lands, or the Secretary of Agriculture in 
managing National Forest System Lands, with respect to any of 
the activities described in subsection (d) shall be 
categorically excluded from any further analysis and 
documentation under the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) if the activity is conducted 
pursuant to the Mineral Leasing Act (30 U.S.C. 181 et seq.) for 
the purpose of exploration or development of oil or gas.
  (b) Categorical Exclusion.--Use of a categorical exclusion 
created in this section--
          (1) shall not require a finding of no extraordinary 
        circumstances; and
          (2) shall be effective for the full term of the 
        authorized permit or approval.
  (c) Application.--This section shall not apply to an action 
of the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of 
Agriculture on Indian lands or resources managed in trust for 
the benefit of Indian Tribes.
  (d) Activities Described.--The activities referred to in 
subsection (a) are:
          (1) Reinstating a lease pursuant to section 31 of the 
        Mineral Leasing Act (30 U.S.C. 188).
          (2) The following activities, provided that any new 
        surface disturbance is contiguous with the footprint of 
        the original authorization and does not exceed 20 acres 
        or the acreage evaluated in a document previously 
        prepared under section 102(2)(C) of the National 
        Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C)) 
        with respect to such activity, whichever is greater:
                  (A) Drilling oil or gas wells at a well pad 
                site at which drilling has occurred previously.
                  (B) Expansion of an existing oil or gas well 
                pad site to accommodate additional wells.
                  (C) Expansion or modification of an existing 
                oil or gas well pad site, road, pipeline, 
                facilities, or utilities submitted in a sundry 
                notice.
          (3) Drilling of oil and gas wells at new well pad 
        sites, provided that the new surface disturbance does 
        not exceed 20 acres or the acreage evaluated in a 
        document previously prepared under section 102(2)(C) of 
        the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 
        U.S.C. 4332(2)(C)) with respect to such activity, 
        whichever is greater.
          (4) Construction or realignment of a road, pipeline, 
        or utilities within an existing right-of-way or within 
        a right-of-way corridor established in a land use plan.
          (5) The following activities when conducted from non-
        Federal surface into federally owned minerals, provided 
        that the operator submits to the Secretary concerned 
        certification of a surface use agreement with the non-
        Federal landowner:
                  (A) Drilling oil or gas wells at a well pad 
                site at which drilling has occurred previously.
                  (B) Expansion of an existing oil or gas well 
                pad site to accommodate additional wells.
                  (C) Expansion or modification of an existing 
                oil or gas well pad site, road, pipeline, 
                facilities or utilities submitted in a sundry 
                notice.
          (6) Drilling of oil or gas wells from non-Federal 
        surface and non-Federal subsurface into Federal mineral 
        estate.
          (7) Construction of up to 1 mile of new road on 
        Federal or non-Federal surface, not to exceed 2 miles 
        in total.
          (8) Construction of up to 3 miles of individual 
        pipelines or utilities, regardless of surface 
        ownership.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    We oppose H.R. 6016 because it provides reckless 
environmental waivers for the benefit of an industry that does 
not need them at all.
    Under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations, 
federal actions that are categorically excluded from further 
review are subject to a screen for extraordinary circumstances 
that would require a harder look at the impacts of that action. 
The idea behind this is simple: even seemingly harmless actions 
may, in certain situations, actually have the potential to 
cause real harm, and commonsense precautions should be taken to 
ensure that this does not occur through federal actions that 
otherwise would be performed without a second thought.
    This legislation would eliminate the ability to perform 
such basic checks for an activity that generally does have 
significant environmental impacts: the drilling of an oil or 
gas well. It is bad enough that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 
created inappropriate categorical exclusions for oil and gas 
drilling in the first place. Eliminating even the most cursory 
review of the public health and environmental impacts of oil 
and gas drilling is foolhardy and unnecessary.
    Two Democratic Members, Mr. Gallego and Ms. Velazquez, 
offered amendments that would have reinstated several of the 
most basic extraordinary circumstances: checking for risks to 
public health or safety, highly uncertain or potentially 
significant environmental effects, highly controversial 
environmental effects, unresolved conflicts with the use of 
other resources, and disproportionately high and adverse 
effects on low income or minority populations. Both amendments 
were taken straight from existing federal regulations at 43 
C.F.R. 46.215, yet during debate on the amendments the Majority 
argued that the language was too vague and could never be used 
effectively. It is clear that the Majority is not aware of what 
extraordinary circumstances are, or how they are used under the 
law, which makes it even more unfortunate that they would 
report a bill that would do away with them for drilling oil and 
gas wells.
    Another Democratic amendment, offered by Ms. Barragan, 
would have exempted from the bill wells that would be drilled 
within one mile of homes, schools, or other buildings that 
would require special protection. Despite the fact that this 
would not actually block any wells from being drilled, and 
would only ensure that additional scrutiny was paid to wells 
that would be close to homes and schools, even this was deemed 
too burdensome for the oil and gas industry by the Majority and 
voted down.
    One particularly concerning talking point that the Majority 
used repeatedly during the markup was the idea that the 
categorical exclusions would only be available for areas where 
there had already been NEPA review performed twice. While 
technically true, this is exceptionally misleading and 
potentially betrays a deep misunderstanding of how NEPA works. 
The first NEPA review is for a Resource Management Plan (RMP), 
which typically covers millions of acres and looks only at 
broad cumulative impacts of potential oil and gas development 
scenarios. The second NEPA review is for the lease sale, which 
is all too often (particularly under this administration) 
treated as a purely administrative action that causes no actual 
on-the-ground impacts. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will 
invariably issue a Finding of No Significant Impact, or, more 
likely, a ``Determination of NEPA Adequacy,'' which is a 
finding that NEPA was already sufficiently performed at the RMP 
stage, and is peppered with phrases like, ``additional site-
specific analysis would be conducted prior to the development 
of these parcels.'' Only at the drilling permit stage does BLM 
actually consider the conditions on the ground at the site 
where a company wants to drill, but this legislation would mean 
that in a huge number of cases, those conditions would never 
and could never be considered. We find it ironic that Members 
who decry ``one-size-fits-all'' management in favor of more 
local control and taking into account specific conditions on 
the ground would support legislation that forbids land managers 
from actually taking into account specific conditions on the 
ground.
    Performing site-specific environmental analyses is far more 
than the redundant paperwork exercise that the Majority makes 
it out to be. First of all, NEPA is often the only way that 
communities living near proposed drill sites learn anything 
about drilling plans and have any way to comment on them. By 
categorically excluding drilling applications, families will be 
left in the dark and unable to have their voices heard on 
issues that impact the health of their communities and the 
level of pollution in their air, water, and soil. Second, there 
are demonstrable environmental benefits to performing site-
specific reviews. The Government Accountability Office found in 
2010 that the use of categorical exclusions provides incentives 
for companies to do piecemeal development that could lead to 
larger and more damaging impacts on the surface.\1\ A recent 
review of wells in one Wyoming field office found that wells 
approved using a categorical exclusion created 87 percent more 
surface disturbance than wells approved using an environmental 
assessment, and three times the amount of surface disturbance 
than wells approved using an environmental impact statement.\2\
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    \1\U.S. Government Accountability Office, Energy Policy Act of 
2005: Greater Clarity Needed to Address Concerns with Categorical 
Exclusions for Oil and Gas Development under Section 390 of the Act, 
GAO-09,872, September 2009.
    \2\M.K. Capone and J.C. Ruple, NEPA and the Energy Policy Act of 
2005 Statutory Categorical Exclusions: What Are the Environmental Costs 
of Expedited Oil and Gas Development?, 18 Vt. J. Envtl. L. 371
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    Finally, there is no compelling reason to pass a bill to 
try to speed federal permitting by eliminating environmental 
reviews. Recently the Committee was informed that companies 
hold over 7,200 approved permits to drill that they haven't 
used, and that BLM has gotten permit processing time down to 
under sixty days. While the Majority and hearing witnesses from 
right-wing think tanks have claimed that production on federal 
lands has been stagnant or declining, the facts show otherwise. 
From 2008 through 2016, oil production on federal onshore lands 
went up nearly 60 percent; in New Mexico, production growth on 
federal lands far outpaced non-federal lands in that same time 
period.
    The arguments made on behalf of this legislation by the 
Majority are based on the idea that the importance of U.S. 
public lands is limited to the number of oil and gas rigs that 
are currently drilling on them. Making things cheaper and 
easier for the oil and gas industry is, therefore, their only 
goal. We believe that public lands belong to all Americans, and 
should be managed in a balanced and responsible way to support 
recreation, wildlife habitat, grazing, conservation, and other 
uses in addition to energy development. For those reasons and 
more, we strongly oppose H.R. 6106.

                                   Raul M. Grijalva,
                                   Ranking Member, Committee on Natural 
                                       Resources.
                                   Nydia M. Velazquez.
                                   Jared Huffman.
                                   A. Donald McEachin.

                                  [all]