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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

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New Report Spots Inconsistencies In Obama Oil & Gas Testing Approvals

A new investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the Obama administration took an inconsistent amount of time to approve applications for seismic testing for offshore oil and gas drilling, a report by The Hill says.

Depending on the regional office, some applications were approved within a day and others would take almost a year to go through the process. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not record application turnaround times consistently either.

“Until NMFS and FWS develop guidance that clarifies how and when staff should record the date the agency determines the ‘adequacy and completeness’ of an application, the agencies and applicants will continue to have uncertainty around review time frames for incidental take authorizations,” GAO said.

“Moreover, NMFS and FWS officials we interviewed said that they do not analyze their review time frames, a practice that is inconsistent with federal standards for internal control.”

Seismic analysis, which allows oil and gas companies to determine potential reserves in the underwater areas they would bid on to lease, is a controversial practice for environmentalists. They claim it unduly disturbs the wildlife.

Related: The Drastic Drop Off In U.S. Oil Imports

An unpredictable bureaucracy generally makes it difficult for high cost, high risk businesses, like the oil and gas industry, to run on a set schedule. The report makes Obama’s executive branch seem unfriendly to the industry, though the previous White House did reverse forty years of restrictions on American fossil fuel exports.

“Seismic research is vital to unlocking energy potential off our coasts, and federal red tape is standing in the way,” Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, who requested the report, said. “GAO’s report highlights the bureaucratic dysfunction, lack of transparency and blatant abuses of discretion that has stalled greater exploration and development.”

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By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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