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

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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  1. Chris Zinda Avatar
    Chris Zinda

    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. idaursine Avatar

    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:

  3. idaursine Avatar

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

  4. idaursine Avatar

    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.”

  5. Bruce Bowen Avatar
    Bruce Bowen

    I think they used to call working without pay slavery.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Yeah and there’s an Amendment for that kind of situation:

      Thirteenth (13th) Amendment Definition:
      An 1865 amendment to the US Constitution that forbids slavery and forced labor except, as regards the latter, as punishment for crime.

      1. Immer Treue Avatar
        Immer Treue

        Let them eat 1/4 pounders with cheese

    1. Hiker Avatar

      This is typical. I also read that any unemployment funds they got must be paid back.

    1. Hiker Avatar

      This should be a lesson to us all. Prepare as best you can for unexpected events.

      1. idaursine Avatar

        Yes. I hope the shutdown comes to a resolution for people soon. 🙁


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan