“At the same time, however, reports in the press indicate that oil and gas companies have nearly 8,000 unused approved drilling permits, and BLM consistently approves more drilling permits than companies approved in a given year,” the lawmakers said. The agency approved 2,846 drilling permit applications in fiscal 2017 while producers started 1,424 wells, they noted.
To help the committee in particular—and Congress in general—evaluate resources BLM commits to processing drilling permit applications, Grijalva asked for a GAO investigation of determine:
“As BLM attempts to efficiently process drilling permit applications, it must focus on [those] that industry is most likely to drill,” Grijalva and Lowenthal said. “Otherwise, BLM staff would be expending limited resources to process permits that industry is unlikely to use.”