Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the Bureau of Land Management has “not been a good partner” in conducting lease sales and providing an efficient permitting process, and directed the agency to “follow the law” in a secretarial order issued Thursday. “Oil and gas production on federal lands is an important source of revenue and job growth in rural America but it is hard to envision increased investment on federal lands when a federal permit can take the better part of a year or more in some cases. This is why I’m directing the BLM to conduct quarterly lease sales and address these permitting issues,” said Zinke.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to unravel the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule last week drew immediate bipartisan support, as the agency took the first concrete procedural steps to revoke the regulation after the Trump administration issued an executive order in February. “I strongly support the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to withdraw the Waters of the U.S. rule. I am hopeful this action will start the process of bringing much needed relief for farmers, ranchers, rural businesses and local governments,” Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-MN), ranking member on the House Committee on Agriculture said in a statement following the announcement.
Bureaucratic hurdles imposed by the federal government are discouraging oil and natural gas development on federal lands and resulting in deferred or lost revenues for states, witnesses told a House committee hearing this week. “The greatest challenge today is regulatory uncertainty at [Bureau of Land Management],” Ryan Flynn, executive vice president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, explained in testimony to the committee.
California billionaire Tom Steyer has pledged to spend more than $7.5 million in voter registration and youth turnout in eight states, including Nevada, in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, according to Politico. Steyer’s efforts to support candidates in 2016 in the Battle Born state included $70,000 in donations to five Nevada legislative candidates, including $10,000 to the sponsor of a bill to ban fracking, a March Western Wire story revealed.
After 42 years of conservation efforts and collaboration among stakeholders, the Interior Department removed the Yellowstone population of grizzly bears from federal protection, returning the management of the species to states and tribes. “This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of state, tribal, federal and private partners,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
A Texas Congressman launched the Congressional Oil and Gas Caucus focusing on oil, gas, and other petroleum products, according to a report by E&E News. Rep. Vicente González (D-Texas), freshman representative of southern Texas’ 15th District, said in a press release, “The 15th District of Texas is home to several refineries, pipelines, and part of the Eagle Ford Shale – I have witnessed the effects of a thriving oil and gas industry firsthand.”
Western officials critical of the sage grouse plans finalized under the Obama administration expressed cautious optimism regarding Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recent secretarial order that directs a review of conservation plans for the bird in 11 Western states. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) said he “appreciates” that Zinke’s review includes collaboration with states, and that Zinke “has taken time to review my letters regarding sage grouse.”