Federal Plan to Automate and Expedite Public Lands Energy Development Draws Mixed Response

04-04-2012 // Ted Williams - Fly, Rod and Reel

This excerpt is from Fly Rod and Reel

As the federal government unveils new initiatives intended to expedite oil and gas leasing and permitting on the nation’s federal lands, a coalition of hunters and anglers is reasserting the need for balanced energy development on valuable public lands fish and wildlife habitat, Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development announced today.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey touted the initiatives today as the secretary ends a two-day visit to North Dakota during which he promoted energy development as an economic engine as well as the increased production of domestic oil and gas resources. An automated process for applications for permits to drill and increased transparency in federal leasing and development decisions were highlighted as part of the government’s approach to facilitating the “safe and responsible development” of domestic public lands energy resources.

“We agree with Director Abbey’s stated goal of automating the application process to make good decisions more efficiently and transparently,” said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior policy adviser on public lands. “We take the director and Secretary Salazar to mean that this isn’t intended to simply speed up and rubber stamp applications and lease nominations – and that good decisions include measures to protect fish, wildlife, air and water.”

SFRED characterized 2010 federal reforms to the nation’s onshore oil and gas program as a positive step toward recognizing fish and wildlife values on public lands. In particular, the coalition stresses the need to do more at the land use planning and leasing stages to minimize conflict, conserve multiple-use values and sustain fish, game, water and recreation.

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