Western Caucus Members Praise Zinke Onshore Order that Supports American Energy Dominance

Jul 6, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), Executive Vice-Chairman Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-03), Chairman Emeritus Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chairman Emeritus Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02), and Western Caucus members Rep. Liz Cheney (WY-At Large) and Rep. Kevin Cramer (ND-At Large) released the following statements after Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke took action to ensure American energy dominance by directing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to hold quarterly lease sales in eligible states and process Applications for Permits to Drill (APD) in a timely manner:

“There is no good reason that responsible American energy projects should be held up by an incompetent federal bureaucracy. It shouldn’t take 257 days to do a little research and process some paperwork, especially when states are getting the job done in a couple weeks,” said Chairman Gosar. “I applaud Secretary Zinke for seeking to fix two important administrative procedures that were badly broken in the previous administration. Establishing a permitting process and lease system that complies with federal law and works for job creators is common sense. The Secretary’s action will remove unnecessary roadblocks, foster economic growth and generate new revenues for education and infrastructure.”  

Congressman Tipton stated, “The U.S. is blessed with an abundance of energy resources which, when responsibly developed, support American jobs and energy independence. I am encouraged to see that Secretary Zinke is taking steps to streamline the permitting process for the responsible development of onshore resources.”

“Secretary Zinke’s commitment to foster regulatory certainty and unleash our energy potential is a welcome shift in priorities at Interior. We will be working in close coordination with the Secretary to provide the Department with the statutory tools to ensure that responsible energy development on federal lands is no longer held hostage to intransigent bureaucracy and ludicrous permitting delays,” Congressman Bishop said.

Congressman Pearce stated, “I’m pleased to see Secretary Zinke continue pushing for the improvement of responsible energy production in America. Funds from the production of oil and gas make up roughly one third of New Mexico general fund revenues. With a greater focus on unleashing our nation’s energy production abilities, New Mexico has the opportunity to become a stronger leader nationally and globally. To do this, however, we must unwind the burdensome regulations that have piled on the natural resources production industry over the years, and clear the backlog of permit applications that take roughly 300 days to complete in New Mexico. By cutting inefficiencies, we can start the process of pulling New Mexico out of the mud, while ensuring our state receives the hard-earned revenues it deserves for a more prosperous future.”

“Wyoming’s economy is built on access to abundant and affordable sources of energy that power America. The secretarial order by the Department of the Interior to streamline the unacceptable backlog of permit applications for mineral leases on federal lands will help to bring an end to the previous administration’s war on Wyoming jobs and fossil fuels. It’s essential for our economic and national security needs that the federal government continues to remove the regulatory burden that threatens the effective implementation of leasing programs across the West. With the federal government out of the way, Wyoming's energy industry can begin to thrive again, bringing back jobs and economic growth and ensuring our nation has access to reliable energy for generations to come,” remarked Congresswoman Cheney.

Congressman Kevin Cramer said, “Considering the Interior has held more federal lease sales in the first six months than the Obama Administration did all of last year, it’s clear the Trump Administration and Secretary Zinke are making American energy a priority. North Dakota enjoys a wide-array of energy sources, and it’s about time we have an Administration with an all-of-the-above energy strategy. Congress should double-down on Zinke’s Secretarial Order with legislation to make sure the next ‘keep-it-in-the-ground’ president can’t pick winners and losers in the energy sector the way the last one did.”

Background:

Today, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed Secretarial Order (SO) 3354 directing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to follow federal law by holding quarterly lease sales in eligible states and processing Applications for Permits to Drill (APDs) in a timely manner.  

To read SO 3354 click HERE. To read the Department of the Interior’s News Release click HERE.

Courtesy of the Department of the Interior

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.

Despite the fact that statute requires that the Department and the BLM process APD review within 30 days, the average time to process an APD in FY16 was 257 days. The directive will improve the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program and the Federal Solid Mineral Leasing Program, which is a major source of income for the federal government and a critical component of American Energy Dominance.

Currently, an applicant pays a non-refundable $9,610 processing fee to the BLM per APD filed. Approved APDs are valid for two years from the date of approval as long as the lease does not expire during that time. For FY18, the President's budget proposal includes a $16 million increase in the Oil and Gas Management program to support permitting and rights-of-way processing.

As of January 31, 2017, the BLM had 2,802 APDs pending.  The five BLM field offices with the highest number of pending APDs are listed below which account for 2,060 or 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 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.

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