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Bill OK'd to speed up oil and gas production

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Posted at 5:22 PM, Feb 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-22 10:35:48-05

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- A Senate panel on Friday advanced an industry-backed bill intended to speed up natural gas and oil production in Idaho by altering the state's decision making process and setting deadlines.

The Senate Resources and Environment Committee voted 8-1 to approve the measure making the Idaho Department of Lands responsible for initial decisions and the five appointed members of the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission more of an appellate body that approves or reverses those decisions.

The commission previously made front-line decisions but openly struggled at times, and on Thursday voted 5-0 to support changing the current process that Commissioner Jim Classen says isn't working.

Backers say the new process could reduce the time from 400 days to about 100 days for oil and gas applications involving appeals.