Secretary Ryan Zinke in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 16, 2017. Photo: U.S. Department of the Interior

Secretary Zinke complains about long waits for approvals at Interior

The Department of the Interior is promising to give energy companies faster decisions on their applications but isn't doing the same for tribes.

Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order on Thursday to speed up reviews of oil and gas drilling permits on public lands. He said energy companies are waiting too long for the Bureau of Land Management to make decisions.

“Oil and gas production on federal lands is an important source of revenue and job growth in rural America but it is hard to envision increased investment on federal lands when a federal permit can take the better part of a year or more in some cases,” Zinke said in a press release.

Secretarial Order No. 3354 does not apply to energy activities on Indian lands. Tribes and companies that do business with tribes have complained that the process at the Bureau of Indian Affairs takes even longer -- 49 steps, to be exact.

Zinke also hasn't said whether he will do anything to address long waits for decisions on land-into-trust applications. The process takes 16 steps, according to a memo he signed on April 6, and regional BIA offices have been stripped of authority for "off-reservation" acquisitions. Those are instead handled by political appointees in Washington, D.C.

Read More on the Story:
Interior aims to speed oil and gas permitting on public lands with 30-day reviews (The Washington Post 7/6)
Interior secretary calls for quicker oil and gas permits (AP 7/6)
The Energy 202: Can Zinke boost more oil and gas drilling on public lands? (The Washington Post 7/7)

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