NEWPORT, OR — Despite the government shutdown, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has continued to accept new drilling permit applications and requests for site inspection at proposed oil and gas wells. Since December 22, when the shutdown began, a BLM database has posted notice of new proposed oil and gas wells in Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, and North Dakota.

“BLM has locked the public out of bathrooms, visitor centers, and at least one lighthouse because of the government shutdown,” said Kelly Fuller, Energy and Mining Campaign Director at Western Watersheds Project. “Why isn’t the oil and gas industry locked out too?”

A legal time clock starts when the BLM receives an oil and gas drilling permit application. The Mineral Leasing Act and its implementing regulations require the BLM to respond to the applicant within 10 days, telling them whether their application is complete and if not, what is needed to make it complete. Within those same 10 days, the BLM must also schedule an onsite inspection. Once the application is deemed complete, the BLM has 30 days to tell the applicant whether it will approve the drilling permit, defer taking action, or deny the permit.

The industry can also ask the BLM or Forest Service for a site inspection before filing a drilling permit application. When that request is made (Notice of Staking), the federal agencies have 10 days to review it and schedule an inspection.

“The BLM needs to stop accepting and approving drilling permit applications and inspection requests right now,” added Fuller. “The BLM has no business serving the oil and gas industry when it is not serving the public.”Companies that have submitted drilling permit applications and site inspection requests during the shutdown include Conoco Philips Alaska, EOG Resources, Novo Oil and Gas, Slawson Exploration Company, and Stephens Production Company.

One example of BLM facilities that have been shuttered is the popular Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon. Its historic lighthouse, visitor center, bathrooms, and parking lots are all closed to the public due to the shutdown. BLM shutdown signs direct the public to park at an adjacent State of Oregon wayside, which on January 6 had all its toilets clogged with paper and human waste. Cars parked just outside the BLM property displayed license plates from many states including Idaho, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington.

Upon request, WWP can provide BLM reports showing new drilling permit applications and requests for site inspection that BLM has received during the shutdown, as well as additional photos of Yaquina Head and the adjacent state wayside bathrooms.

. . . News release from the Western Watersheds Project

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

15 Responses to The BLM is Still Accepting New Oil and Gas Drilling Applications during the Government Shutdown

  1. avatar Chris Zinda says:

    The NPS is allowing cities, states, and private entities to keep parks open, a slippery slope to transfer/privitization.

    Crickets (even some praise) from the enviro left. No lawsuits from House Dems.

    So much for the value of both the law and the Washington Monument strategy, as wreckreation is a bipartisan virtue.

  2. avatar idaursine says:

    You know, this was predictable, but has turned out even worse than I could have imagined! Joshua trees are a slow-growing species that should be listed as threatened, especially due to climate change? What kind of vile person(s) could do this?

    Some people do not deserve our National Parks! Just heartbreaking:

    https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/joshua-tree-damage-government-shutdown-offroading-13524335.php

  3. avatar idaursine says:

    And the ‘important stuff’, drilling and killing, just keeps on rollin’:

    https://www.denverpost.com/2019/01/09/us-orders-refuges-staff-hunters-shutdown/

  4. avatar idaursine says:

    I think we have need of a wall all right, only not where the furor is all about:

    “Joshua trees are beautiful, but humans can be pretty awful.”

    https://news.yahoo.com/visitors-chainsaw-iconic-joshua-trees-185205452.html

  5. avatar Bruce Bowen says:

    I think they used to call working without pay slavery.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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