From the AOI Leading Issues:

Linear Permitting – Can You Dig it?

In a sign of the new political environment in Salem, the House Business Committee passed a new linear pipeline project bill out of committee on a stunning 8-0 vote. The legislation – HB 2700 – has been historically contentious, being blocked in each of the past two legislative sessions after bruising battles. The fact that the bill passed unanimously out of a House committee signifies that legislators appear to have a sense of urgency about economic development, investment and job creation.

HB 2700 addresses the issue of linear pipeline projects. The existing definition of “applicant” for purposes of applying for a removal-fill permit currently holds up linear infrastructure projects our economy badly needs. HB 2700 fixes the statute to allow linear projects to move through a rational, defined process. It aligns the Division of State Land’s application process for a removal-fill permit with the application standard for other state permits. HB 2700 could put thousands of people back to work by allowing affected infrastructure projects to move forward.

Current law leads to unneeded delays for any project that requires removal-fill permits. These are projects our state needs to move out of this recession and includes:

  • Roads and highways
  • Underground utilities
  • Renewable energy projects
  • Water and sewer projects
  • Maintenance of existing roads and utilities

Without HB 2700, developers of these projects could be forced to condemn property simply to apply for a removal-fill permit. In contrast to the application process for other permits, this puts condemnation at the beginning of the process instead of at the end as a last resort.

HB 2700 is a simple fix to remove this barrier and ensure the law works and doesn’t unnecessarily prevent Oregonians from going back to work on these types of projects.

AOI testified in favor of the bill as amended.

Here is a short audio that provides a good overview. Mp3 (audio will only be available until February 21, 2011).

If you have any doubts about how this bill affects property rights, listen to this Q&A between Representative Mike Schaufler (D-Happy Valley), Co-Chair of the House Business Committee and others, quizzing the Assistant Director of State Lands. Mp3 (audio will only be available until February 21, 2011).

The bill is expected to pass the House floor and move to the Senate.