President Donald Trump’s pledge to open oil and gas drilling on federal lands has hit a bureaucratic log jam.
More than 3,000 applications for drilling permits are awaiting review at the Bureau of Land Management, according to a report by E&E News, a trade publication.
Acting Director Mike Nedd told E&E the bureau is working on several strategies to speed the processing of applications. “It may be a strike team. It may be shifting the workload to a different office,” he said.
Revenue from oil and gas production on federal lands and waters declined sharply in recent years, after the collapse in commodity prices in 2014. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has ordered staff to review regulations and management to see how production can be increased.
“Every day that goes by while independent producers — companies with an average of 12 employees — wait for their permits to be approved means more money out of their own pockets,” Neal Kirby, spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, told E&E.