Yesterday, the department announced its plans with Secretarial Order 3354 to ease permit backlogs and delays–specifically to improve upon existing permit processes on federal lands for onshore drilling and to determine solutions to allow access on more federal lands for mineral development.
Since January 31, 2017, the Bureau of Land Management has been sitting on 2,802 Applications for Permit to Drill (APD). The current statute in place requires DOI and BLM to process APD reviews within 30 days. Last year, the process time in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 averaged a whopping 257 days. (This goes to show how virulently anti-energy the Obama administration was.)
“Oil and gas production on federal lands is an important source of revenue and job growth in rural America but it is hard to envision increased investment on federal lands when a federal permit can take the better part of a year or more in some cases. This is why I’m directing the BLM to conduct quarterly lease sales and address these permitting issues. We are also looking at opportunities to bring support to our front line offices who are facing the brunt of this workload.” said Secretary Zinke. “This is just good government and will further support the President’s goal of American energy dominance.”
“The Department of the Interior will be a better neighbor in the new Trump Administration,” Zinke added. “As is outlined in this order, we will look at ways to improve the process and make sure regulations serve their intended purpose rather than create a mountain of useless paperwork. By streamlining approvals of responsible energy development on federal land, and actually holding lease sales, we will generate revenue for local communities and the Treasury to fund the things we all value like National Parks, infrastructure and education.”
The Department of Interior has also tackled offshore oil and gas exploration reform by announcing in April their intention to pursue a new 5-year National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). On June 29th, a 45-day period for public input was announced. In late May, Zinke’s department announced plans to jumpstart energy exploration in Alaska.
This latest move to pursue energy independence should be celebrated. It doesn’t mean public lands will be wholly destroyed or “privatized” for the highest bidder. Land management can be sustainable–especially if pursued in the true conservationist manner. The safe and ethical exploration of natural resources is the American way.
Stay tuned for more Department of Interior developments here at The Resurgent.