Murkowski: New Secretarial Order Will Help Reduce Permitting Delays
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, issued the following statement after Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issued a Secretarial Order directing the Department to hold regular onshore oil and gas leasing sales and to reduce delays in the processing of Applications for Permits to Drill (APDs).
“After years of bureaucratic delay that held back and halted critical projects, this order is yet more good news for our efforts to refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline,” Murkowski said. “Although Secretary Zinke is only seeking to do what the law requires, that will be a monumental improvement compared to recent years. I strongly support his work to restore access to our federal lands and efficiency to the permitting process.”
Secretary Zinke recently signed Secretarial Order 3354 “to ensure that quarterly lease sales are consistently held and to identify other ways the Department…may promote the exploration and development of both Federal onshore oil and gas resources and Federal solid mineral resources.”
The Mineral Leasing Act requires the Department to hold quarterly oil and gas lease sales, but in 2016, it delayed or canceled eleven sales. The law also requires decisions on APDs within 30 days, but last year that lagged to an average of 257 days. At the end of January 2017, the Department had a backlog of 2,802 APDs waiting to be processed.
This Secretarial Order could be particularly beneficial to the development of the oil and gas resources within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a 23-million acre expanse specifically designated for that purpose. The previous administration used the permitting process to delay vital projects in the reserve for years, while also imposing an Integrated Activity Plan (IAP) that cut off access to fully half of its surface acreage. Secretary Zinke previously announced that his Department will review the current IAP while visiting Anchorage in late May.
Murkowski is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.