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Washington Further Facilitates Oil Drilling on Federal Lands

The Interior Department has furthered its efforts to make oil and gas drilling on federal land easier by implementing a policy aimed at streamlining the leasing process. The streamlining effectively reduces the opportunities that drilling opponents have to put the brakes on oil and gas exploration.

The policy features provisions such as a 60-day deadline for processing proposed lease sales and cutting the protest periods to 10 days. Also, the Interior Department repealed a provision approved by the previous administration that gave other users of federal land such as hunters and anglers the power to object to a lease sale.

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In addition, the public participation in some lease sale reviews was redirected to lower-level government officials and environmental reviews of lease sales were reduced to six months with BLM officials no longer required to visit the site of the lease while they conduct the review.

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The move is clearly a part of President’ Trump’s top focus on energy independence, but it is making a lot of groups unhappy as it effectively removes a lease sale reform introduced by the Obama administration after scores of lease sales in Utah had to be canceled under a wave of lawsuits from environmentalists. The reform aimed to give other stakeholders besides the energy industry a bigger say in how federal lands are handled.

Related: The Oil Market Is Already Balanced

There will certainly be a backlash now. “The clear direction is to issue as many leases as possible, as quickly as possible, without considering resource conflicts or the desires of local communities,” said one environmental activist, Wilderness Society senior counsel Nada Culver.

“Not only is the administration rolling back safeguards for fish and wildlife and other natural resources, it’s also making it harder for Americans to weigh in on decisions about their own public lands by decreasing opportunities for input,” commented another opponent, Tracy Stone-Manning, the associate vice president for federal lands at the National Wildlife Federation.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Oilracle on February 03 2018 said:
    ---The move is clearly a part of President’ Trump’s top focus on energy independence,---

    Nope, "energy independence" was G. W. Bush's slogan.

    D. Trump aims at the US energy DOMINANCE!
  • Bob cook on February 03 2018 said:
    Drill baby drill.....
  • Randy Verret on February 02 2018 said:
    I'd respectfully suggest everyone not get too worked up. The rules as far as lease sales is only the BEGINNING of a long road before a land parcel is evaluated and ever gets to be (potentially) a productive well location. Applications for Permit to Drill (still) have to be obtained at the federal & state levels and any oil & gas activities on the federal domain are subject to environmental analysis under NEPA review. So, the sky is not falling, believe it or not...

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