Expedited Drilling Permits A Top Priority For DOI Nominee

by Michael Sandoval September 7, 2017

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Eliminating the permitting backlog facing the Department of Interior for oil and gas drilling is a top priority for Joseph Balash, nominated by Trump to help lead the land and minerals management office. More than 2,800 outstanding Applications for Permit to Drill (APD) remained in a January 31, 2017 survey of DOI records.


President Donald Trump declared North Dakota’s natural resource development in the Bakken oil fields an “energy miracle” during a speech on his administration’s tax cut plan. Trump made the visit with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who voted against the repeal of an Obama administration methane rule in May. Heitkamp faces a tough reelection campaign in 2018, and her appearance with the president in a state he won by 36 points could signal the senator’s acknowledgement that her vote against oil and gas—particularly in North Dakota—could endanger her political future.


Sierra Club’s 2017 ‘Cool Schools’ ranking of 227 participating colleges and universities found that none had yet achieved “complete sustainability” according to the environmental group. Self-reporting schools could earn up to 1,000 points across 62 categories, scoring points for sustainability programs, emissions monitoring, LEED certifications, locally sourced organic and fair trade food and beverages, electricity generation, multi-modal transportation options, and campus divestment.

Bureau of Indian Affairs

The builder of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has filed a lawsuit after months of protests, project delays, and cleanup and law enforcement response that cost the company and taxpayers millions of dollars, alleging racketeering and defamation against prominent national activist groups. Energy Transfer Partners “filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota against Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Inc., Greenpeace Fund, Inc., BankTrack, Earth First!, and other organizations and individuals,” ETP said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The Complaint alleges that this group of co-conspirators (the “Enterprise”) manufactured and disseminated materially false and misleading information about Energy Transfer and the Dakota Access Pipeline (“DAPL”) for the purpose of fraudulently inducing donations, interfering with pipeline construction activities and damaging Energy Transfer’s critical business s and financial relationships.”

Several leading western health experts and state health officials are among a select list of nominees now being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency for Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), the agency announced this week. The body provides advice and recommendations to the EPA administrator on air quality. The list of nominees includes public health officials like Dr. Larry Wolk, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Chief Medical Officer for the state of Colorado, and Dr. Steven Packham, Toxicologist in the Division of Air Quality for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

For western regions not in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 ozone rule, regulatory relief and cooperative agreements may be on the table as solutions, the agency said in a report requested by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). EPA’s report was initiated by the Senate Finance Committee Chairman in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, passed in May, and directed the EPA to develop recommendations for alternative methods of ozone compliance through Congressional oversight and a re-examination of statutory authority. The report and comes as Western states continue to seek relief from revised ozone standards announced under the Obama administration.

Western Wire

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is all-in on a possible relocation of Department of Interior federal agency offices to Colorado, he said Thursday. “I’m all for it. I’m all for it, I think it would be great,” Bennet told Western Wire. “I think anything we can get out of Washington, D.C. and into Colorado, I’m for.”

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