U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

A Much Needed Attitude Adjustment at the Department of Interior

A Much Needed Attitude Adjustment at the Department of Interior

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By: Matt Letourneau

Just a few weeks ago, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke visited the Chamber to help us celebrate our 10th Anniversary and our new name—the Global Energy Institute.  Secretary Zinke promised that the Department of Interior would be taking real actions to support American energy development, and today he delivered in a big way.

Today, he did exactly that, signing secretarial order 3354, which will streamline the process to permit federal onshore oil and gas leasing permits, and ensure that the federal government is acting on permits in accordance with the timeline required by law.  This action marks a complete reversal from the approach taken by the previous Administration, which cancelled or postponed eleven lease sales last year in violation of the law, and took an average of 257 days to process an application to drill, despite a statutory requirement of 30 days. 

Christopher Guith, senior vice president of policy at the Chamber’s Global Energy Institute, lauded the move:

“This is a much needed change in U.S. policy, embracing America’s energy abundance and diversity instead of policies that pushed us to depend more on imported energy and exported jobs.  The law has been pretty clear for a century--the Secretary of Interior is responsible for conducting quarterly lease sales on available BLM land and concluding the review process on an application for a permit to drill within 30 days.  The previous administration decided to ignore these legal requirements to the detriment of U.S. energy security and western jobs.  Secretary Zinke’s re-commitment to following the law is a tremendous step towards harnessing America’s status as a growing energy super-power.”

Modern seismic and exploration technology allows energy producers to produce more in a shorter period and with less of an environmental footprint than even a few years ago.  We’re happy to see Secretary Zinke, a geologist, understands and embraces these technologies and is committed to following the law.