Zinke Fast-Tracks Oil and Gas Exploration on Public Lands

In an effort to boost fossil fuel production on federal lands, the Interior Secretary will reduce permitting wait time and hold more frequent lease sales.

Oil and gas drill rig and pad near Railroad Valley, Nevada

BLM Nevada

On the heels of President Trump’s promise to bring about a “golden age of American energy dominance” last week, Ryan Zinke, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, announced today that he will make it easier for companies to extract oil and gas on federal lands. His order directs officials to issue new drilling permits within 30 days—a significantly shorter window than last year’s average of 257 days—and hold quarterly lease sales, regardless of interest from the oil and gas industry.

“Fast-tracking oil and gas exploitation on our public lands is wrong for America,” said Sharon Buccino, NRDC’s Land & Wildlife program director. “And it’s another sad example of the Trump administration’s fossil fuel–first agenda that puts taxpayers, our health, and our treasured public lands last.”

Zinke’s order is part of Trump’s scheme to sell off areas across the country to the highest bidder, putting the profits of big polluters over the interests of the American people. Just last week, for example, the president announced a plan to open the Arctic and Atlantic coasts to new oil and gas drilling.

“We’ll continue to resist this and every other payoff to the oil and gas industries,” Buccino said. “Our precious public lands should be held in trust for all Americans—not sold off to those who would desecrate them for profit.”

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