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Congressman Rob Bishop

Representing the 1st District of Utah

Article: Industry report faults NEPA for hamstringing Western projects

May 9, 2012


Industry report faults NEPA for hamstringing Western projects

Margaret Kriz Hobson, E&E reporter

Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Proposed oil and gas projects on federal lands in Utah and Wyoming, which could provide a total economic impact of $383.5 billion over their 10- to 15-year lifetime, are being delayed by environmental reviews, according to an industry-funded study.

The report, released today by the Western Energy Alliance and prepared by Las Vegas-based SWCA Environmental Consultants, outlines the potential economic impacts of 22 oil and gas projects that are now undergoing environmental assessment required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

According to the study, energy development on the federal lands now under review could create more than 120,000 jobs, $27.5 billion in economic activity and $139 million in government revenue every year during the lifetime of the projects.

Most of the environmental impact assessments on those projects have been under way for more than two years, and some were begun more than five years ago.

"Government delays during the environmental analysis phase are preventing significant job creation and economic activity," said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at the alliance, a trade group representing 400 Western oil and gas companies.

"Federal policies discourage domestic oil and natural gas production and put the West at a disadvantage compared to other regions of the country without a preponderance of public lands," she said. "This study provides hard evidence of how bureaucratic delays are adversely affecting small businesses and working families."

The study examined 3,164 wells proposed on 22 projects that were under federal NEPA review as of Jan. 1.

The Utah-based projects could create 62,425 jobs, $12.7 billion in economic benefits and $56.7 million in government revenue annually, the study says. The Wyoming projects could create 58,480 jobs, $14.8 billion in economic impacts and $82.5 million in government revenue.

The report comes a day after the Interior Department formally approved a major new natural gas-drilling project in northeast Utah, to cheers from both industry and environmentalists (Greenwire, May 8).

Click here to read the report.