Government Shutdown: Oil and Gas Permitting Tracker
With former oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt at the helm, Interior Department is ramping up efforts to permit new drilling
Update: According to a report published by CNN on March 27, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management approved 267 drilling permits and issued 16 oil and gas leases during the government shutdown. The report cited statistics provided by the Interior Department which are not currently available to the public.
Throughout the 35-day government shutdown, many Americans felt the crunch of foregone paychecks and absent government services. National parks remained open, but understaffed, leaving their protected resources vulnerable to vandalism and illegal activity.
In stark contrast, under newly installed Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, the Interior Department ramped up efforts to accommodate the oil and gas industry as the shutdown wore on. Employees at the Bureau of Land Management were recalled in an accelerating effort to accept and approve drilling permits in Western states and keep future public lands lease sales on track.
As of February 7, 2019 at 12:30PM MT, government databases indicate that during the shutdown (December 22, 2018-January 25, 2019) the Bureau of Land Management:
- Approved 40 environmental reviews for new drilling projects
- Approved 15 new leases for oil and gas development on public lands
- Accepted 260 applications for drilling permits
- Accepted 162 nominations of public lands parcels to be leased for oil and gas development
While oil and gas companies largely refrained from submitting applications for drilling permits and nominations for public lands leases at the beginning of the government shutdown, the Bureau of Land Management accepted an increasing number of applications.
Similarly, as Bureau of Land Management employees were recalled to process oil and gas applications, approvals of drilling permits and oil and gas leases increased.