Bureau of Land Management continues to process applications for drilling permits without environmental reviews and protest periods.
Washington DC – In the midst of the longest federal shutdown in history, some Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff continue to process applications for drilling permits throughout the southwestern United States. Due to the partial shutdown, the BLM lacks the necessary funds and staff to fully comply with applicable legal requirements for numerous upcoming lease sales, currently slated for March. These requirements include mandatory environmental reviews and 30-day public comment and protest periods under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and National Environmental Policy Act.
No information has been provided from the Department of the Interior or BLM on multiple protest periods slated to begin this month. The potential lack of public input and federal oversight throughout the process for the upcoming March sales poses an extraordinary risk to national parks across the country. In response to these actions, National Parks Conservation Association, along with more than 30 other organizations, have called on Acting Interior Secretary Bernhardt to postpone all March oil and gas lease sales and to immediately cease permitting and planning activities while the federal government is partially shut down.
Statement by Matt Kirby, Director of Energy and Landscape Conservation for National Parks Conservation Association
“We are extremely concerned about reported accounts that permitting for oil and gas activities is continuing despite the partial government shutdown. With new lease sales quickly approaching, some of which have direct impacts on nearby national parks, we are skeptical that the BLM has the funding and staff to adequately prepare. During the shutdown, public accessibility to BLM has been limited, indicating industry has a direct line to permit approval. This lack of transparency on the part of the administration ignores the concerns of communities most directly impacted by this unchecked oil and gas development. Until we can confirm that proper public participation and environmental review is occurring, we call on this administration to postpone all upcoming lease sales.”
About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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