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WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is delaying for 60 days the effective date of a rule that will require online filing of permits for oil and gas drilling. The delay responds to a White House memorandum issued on January 20, 2017, instructing Federal agencies to temporarily postpone for 60 days any regulation that had published in the Federal Register, but has not taken effect. The BLM had announced this final rule in December, with an effective date of February 9, 2017.
The rule, which updates Onshore Order 1 – Approval of Operations − is designed to improve the efficiency and transparency of the permitting process for oil and gas drilling. Onshore Order 1 previously stated that an operator must file an APD or any other required documents in the BLM Field Office having jurisdiction over the lands described in the application, but allowed for e-filing of such documents as an alternative. The revision to Onshore Order 1 makes e-filing the required method of submission, subject to limited exceptions. The BLM made this change to improve the efficiency and transparency of the Application for Permit to Drill (APD) and Notice of Staking (NOS) processes.
The 60-day delay will enable the Administration to review the rule.
Since the BLM began developing the new online permitting system in 2014, almost 500 operators representing 70 different companies have provided valuable feedback and taken part in training. To date, more than 500 permits have been reviewed and approved via the electronic permit processing system, and another 1,500 are currently being processed.
The shift toward online filing is part of an ongoing effort by the BLM to increase efficiency and transparency of the drilling permit review and approval process. This regulatory effort complements the BLM’s recent upgrades to its permit processing system. The upgraded permit processing system includes increased automation, allows operators to receive real-time feedback on their permits, makes the process more transparent, and enhances the BLM’s ability to manage workflow. The upgraded system was rolled out in late 2015 at certain offices and was fully implemented in 2016 within all offices. With the new system, the BLM expects it will be able to reduce overall APD processing times by as much as 50 percent.
More information about Onshore Order 1 and the rulemaking process can be found online. (Hyperlink is https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=BLM-2016-0004)