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The Washington Examiner is reporting that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has ordered the agency he heads to resolve more than 2,000 oil and natural gas permit applications for drilling on public lands, finally ending countless delays for permits.
“There’s a reason why our energy revolution from 2008 forward has been primarily on private lands and state lands, and not federal lands,” Zinke said on a call with reporters, according to the Examiner. “We have been particularly, I think, punitive in some ways.”
On top of ending the permitting delays, Zinke also ordered the Bureau of Land Management to take no longer than 30 days to decide on permit applications, which is in line with the existing law, reported the Examiner. On top of this, he asked ordered that the bureau conduct quarterly lease sales and address permitting issues. “We are also looking at opportunities to bring support to our front line offices who are facing the brunt of this workload,” he said.
Zinke, according to the Examiner, called the decision part of President Donald Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda to provide for the energy needs of the country while supporting exports.
“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,” Zinke said.
“This is just good government and will further support the president’s goal of American energy dominance,” he said.
Critics have accused Zinke and the Trump administration of selling out the nation’s public lands to the oil and gas industry, reports the Examiner.
“The oil and gas industry has been sitting on thousands of approved permits on their millions of acres of leased land for years now. The real problem here is this administration’s obsession with selling out more of our public lands to the oil and gas industry at the expense of the American people,” said Nada Culver, senior policy director at the Wilderness Society.