A decision to expand the available oil and gas leasing in the Little Missouri National Grasslands has drawn praise from North Dakota’s Congressional delegation.

Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong today issued a statement after the U.S. Forest Service issued a decision that expands energy development to an additional 216,000 acres of Forest Service land, with certain lease stipulations.

“This final ROD is an important part of the updated management plans for the grasslands and will help provide certainty for our energy producers and enable our state to continue its leadership in energy production,” Hoeven, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said. “We appreciate the Forest Service’s thorough environmental review and completion of this ROD, which will help expand production with good environmental stewardship. At the same time, we continue working with the Forest Service to address permitting delays by ensuring they have the necessary staffing resources to reduce the backlog in permit requests.”

In September, Hoeven and Cramer were joined by USDA Under Secretary James Hubbard in Bismarck at a roundtable with the North Dakota energy producers and USFS officials as part of their efforts to provide feedback on the draft ROD. Hoeven invited Hubbard, who oversees the USFS, to visit the state during his confirmation process. Additionally, in August 2019, Hoeven brought USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen to Watford City to show her firsthand the need to address energy permitting delays on Forest Service land.

“By issuing this long-awaited Record of Decision, the Forest Service is seeking to give North Dakota’s energy producers a workable management plan,” said Senator Cramer. “I’m grateful Under Secretary Hubbard came to North Dakota to discuss this issue and others with us, and I look forward to working with the agency and our constituents to ensure these Forest Service lands are managed in the cooperative manner they were intended to be.”

“North Dakota continues to lead the way for American energy independence, providing good paying jobs for thousands of North Dakotans,” said Congressman Armstrong. “We have worked with the Forest Service and the Trump Administration to safely expand production opportunities and we will continue our advocacy for regulatory certainty in North Dakota.”

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