Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to streamline the process for oil and gas development on federal lands. Zinke signed an order Thursday mandating Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sales be held in each state on at least a quarterly basis.
Zinke noted during a telephone press conference that under the Obama administration BLM fell far short of that legally-mandated limit.
"Last year in FY 2016, BLM canceled or postponed 11 lease sales" Zinke said. "That was the second-lowest amount of acreage available in 20 years. The lowest was in 2011."
Zinke’s order also mandates faster and more efficient oil and gas permitting. He says federal statute requires the Interior Department and BLM to approve or deny drilling permit applications within 30 days.
Last year, that process took an average of 257 days.
"When the statute was put in, that 30 days seemed reasonable, appropriate, in the best interests of the public. Obviously, we strayed away from that," Zinke said.
The Associated Press reports some environmentalists criticize Zinke’s order as a giveaway to oil and gas interests.