The Department of Interior plans on cutting wait times for oil and natural gas drilling permits on public lands to just 30 days, according to a senior agency official.
“We do want to shrink it down to 30 days and to make all the processes as short as possible, but at the same time, making sure our environmental stewardship is not breached, all of which is completely doable,” Vincent DeVito, energy policy adviser to Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, told Politico on Monday.
“We intend to be a better business partner,” DeVito said, “by harmonizing the environmental review process across the board, the one-stop-shopping type of model.”
Republicans and drilling proponents have for years criticized the Obama administration for stymieing energy production on federal lands at a time when output boomed on state and private lands.
If what DeVito says were to happen processing times for oil and gas drilling permits on federal lands would be cut by more than 71 percent.
On average it took the federal government 220 days to approve drilling permits in 2015, but 116 of those days came from time spent by oil companies addressing “deficiencies” in their permit application — though the Trump administration could streamline this process as well.
The Interior Department itself took 104 days on average to process drilling permits in 2015, according to government data. Cutting the wait for permits would put the federal government on par with states, like North Dakota and Texas, which have experienced an energy boom.
President Donald Trump has made “energy dominance” a key part of his economic platform. Much of the “energy dominance” focus has been directed at the Interior Department where officials have already begun rolling back Obama administration restrictions on drilling.
“We have so much more than we ever thought possible,” Trump told energy CEOs in late June “Under the previous administration, so much of our land was off limits to development.”
Trump signed an executive order in April to boost offshore energy production. Zinke followed up on that executive order by beginning the process of replacing the Obama administration’s five-year offshore drilling plan with one that opens up more areas to exploration.
The Trump administration has leased 990,157 acres of offshore areas, generating nearly $278 million in high bids revenues, mostly raised from leases in the Gulf of Mexico.
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