The Obama administration will speed permitting for oil- and natural-gas drilling on federal lands to lure more fracking and rebut Republican and industry complaints the government is blocking energy production.
“We can do better by creating additional incentives for companies to develop existing leases more timely,” Bob Abbey, director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, said today during a conference call with reporters.
The agency may cut application reviews to about 60 days from 298 days by using an automated system, Abbey said. Companies and the public will be able to check the status and submit additional information when needed, the agency said in a statement.
Companies such as Chevron Corp. (CVX:US) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM:US) are buying leases in states including Pennsylvania and North Dakota to extract oil and gas using hydraulic fracturing. The American Petroleum Institute, the largest industry trade group, has said most of the new U.S. production is on private property because permits for federal land take longer to acquire.
“Today’s announcement sounds promising but additional reforms are needed,” Erik Milito, a director at the Washington- based institute, said today in a statement. “The administration needs to significantly reduce the unnecessary multiyear time frame for environmental reviews and open areas that remain off limits for responsible energy development.”
The changes may help the agency track leases, ensuring that safety requirements are being met, Bobby McEnaney, public-lands expert at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an e-mail.
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