Hatch praises Zinke’s order to streamline process for leasing permits

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the senior Republican in the United States Senate, praised Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s Secretarial Order 3354, which tackles the extensive backlog in federal onshore oil and gas leasing permits.

The order will identify solutions to streamline the permitting process for mineral leases on federal lands, and will identify solutions for improved access to additional parcels of federal land that are appropriate for mineral development.

“Washington has continuously stalled the development of our own domestic reserves, especially throughout the Mountain West,” Hatch said. “In Utah, where the federal government owns nearly 70 percent of the land, unelected bureaucrats have stymied attempts to recover energy resources via excessive regulatory processes. Even as American energy production has skyrocketed, production on federal lands has remained flat. That is why I strongly support Secretary Zinke’s order to hold quarterly lease sales and process leasing permits within the required 30 days. Streamlining approvals of responsible energy development on federal land, and actually holding lease sales, will generate revenue for local communities and give them more access to energy reserves. The Trump administration continues to demonstrate an increased understanding for the importance of cutting the regulatory red tape on America’s energy resources, allowing our nation to move toward energy dominance.”

Background on Secretarial Order 3354:

As of January 31, 2017, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had 2,802 Applications for Permit to Drill (APDs) pending. The five BLM field offices with the highest number of pending APDs are listed below, which account for 2,060 (approximately 74 percent) of the total pending APDs.

  • Casper, Wyoming: APDs pending: 526
  • Vernal, Utah: APDs pending: 506
  • Dickinson, North Dakota: APDs pending: 488
  • Carlsbad/Hobbs, New Mexico: APDs pending: 388
  • Farmington, New Mexico: APDs pending: 152

Last year, the Department of Interior canceled or postponed eleven lease sales. By contrast, the Trump Administration has already held more lease sales in the first six months than in the previous year, offered more acreage in those sales, and raised more revenue than in the same time period last year.

Secretarial Order 3354 directs the BLM to make both federal oil and gas resources and solid mineral resources on the public lands available for the benefit of the citizens of the United States. The Order is in compliance with the Mineral Leasing ACT (30 U.S.C. § 226), which requires oil and gas lease sales “be held for each State where eligible lands are available at least quarterly and more frequently if the Secretary of the Interior determines such sales are necessary.” 

The order also directs the BLM to address permitting backlogs and identify areas where improvements can be made in the permitting process to ensure the safe and timely exploration and development of our nation’s federal energy resources.