North Dakota will receive a record $1.08 billion in federal highway funds over the next three years, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., told members of the North Dakota Association of Oil & Gas Producing Counties at its annual meeting in Minot Thursday.
Legislation titled Moving Ahead in the 21st Century passed Congress and was signed by the president. It provides $236 million for North Dakota in the current fiscal year, $240 million in the next fiscal year and $242.5 million in fiscal year 2014. North Dakota will receive another $41.3 million over the three years for public transit.
The money is in addition to $317 million in emergency road funding passed by Congress late last year for flood recovery and infrastructure projects in western North Dakota.
Hoeven, who served on the conference committee on the bill, said expedited permitting of projects is another benefit in the new law that will help North Dakota get projects built faster.
Hoeven explained that MAP-21 allows for certain projects to be designated as "categorical exclusions." These projects are determined by the federal Department of Transportation to have no significant impacts, so environmental studies aren't necessary.
Examples would be the repair of damage from a disaster, construction alongside existing roadways, projects receiving less than $5 million in federal funds or project features that receive only a small portion of total project funding from the federal government.
In cases where environmental reviews are required, the new law limits to 180 days the time an agency has to decide on a permit after the review is completed.
Hoeven mentioned other legislation pending in Congress, including the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act. The bill is a comprehensive package of 13 diverse energy bills that simplifies regulations, freezes Environmental Protection Agency rulemaking and studies the effect of proposed rules on the price of gasoline and diesel. It approves the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will bring 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, including 100,000 barrels a day from North Dakota's Bakken fields, Hoeven said.
The Empower States Act is another proposed bill that requires the EPA to involve states in drafting new regulations on hydraulic fracturing.