Hastings floats bill aimed at expanding NPRA production

But Hastings said Thursday that Obama decision to hold annual lease sales does not go far enough. Streamlined regulations are necessary to ensure the construction of roads and pipelines that can transport NPRA oil to the rest of the country, he said.

Hastings released the draft bill on the same day he is touring Alaska with Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). As part of the tour, Hastings will fly over the NPRA and visit Prudhoe Bay oil field.

Hastings’ bill would require lease sales in the NPRA at least once a year in “those areas of the reserve most likely to produce commercial quantities of oil and natural gas.”

The legislation also sets timelines for the approval of permits for roads and pipelines Hastings says are necessary to ensure access to key areas of the NPRA. The bill mandates that the Interior secretary provide a report to Congress within 270 days to ensure that all leasable areas in the reserve are within 25 miles of a road or pipeline.

Within 180 days, the Interior Department would be required under the legislation to issue new regulations aimed at speeding up oil and gas development in the NPRA. The regulations would establish a timeline for the consideration of permit applications.

The bill gives the Interior Department 60 days to review permit applications. In the event that the application cannot be processed in 60 days, Interior must provide applicants with detailed information regarding the reason for the delay.

Lastly, the bill would require that the Interior Department conduct a assessment of the recoverable oil and gas resources in the NPRA within two years.

Hastings has scheduled a subcommittee hearing on the legislation for June 16.