California Congressman: Slow Down Permits! Introduces Bill Targeting Approved But Unimplemented Permits to Drill
Last week, California Representative Alan Lowenthal (D) introduced HR 4103 (2017), also known as the “Having Open Access to Relevant Data Act” or the “HOARD Act.” The legislation specifically targets applicants who have obtained Permits to Drill on federal lands, but had not begun timely drilling.
The HOARD Act is in response to the Bureau of Land Management’s announcement that it will no longer track the number of unused Permits to Drill. Under the HOARD Act, the BLM is required to submit an annual report of approved but unused Permits to Drill in an effort to curb the “hoarding” of these permits. Additionally, applicants with at least 100 approved Permits to Drill are precluded from bidding on new oil and gas leases for five years.
The bill’s co-sponsor, Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva (D), explained that one purpose of the HOARD Act was to undercut arguments by Republicans that overregulation has inhibited the timely issuance of permits. According to Grijalva, the HOARD Act will help ensure that BLM employees do not expedite the processing of permits to resolve a “non-existent crisis.”
Earlier this month, the BLM had announced that it would no longer track these approved but unused Permits to Drill in order to dedicate more resources to processing new permits. The BLM’s permit streamlining efforts were consistent with the Trump Administration’s mandate to expedite permit processing, and to decrease the backlog of pending Permits to Drill.