by Environment & Energy Daily on March 29, 2011

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By Phil Taylor, E&E reporter


The oil and gas industry has nearly 7,200 permits to drill on public lands that it has yet to use, according to Bureau of Land Management data obtained by Greenwire.

The unused, but still valid, drilling permits paint a starkly different picture from what industry and some in Congress have argued is a concerted effort by the Obama administration to lock up federal lands to energy production, said Dave Alberswerth, senior policy adviser on energy issues for the Wilderness Society and a former Interior Department official in the Clinton administration.

“I don’t see how the industry and their allies can maintain with a straight face this fiction that somehow the Obama administration is unduly restricting their access to public lands for drilling when they’re sitting on literally thousands of unused drilling permits,” he said.

But the number of unused permits only tells part of a regulatory picture that includes the need to also obtain air and water permits, seasonal restrictions, and economic factors, said an energy attorney and former official with Devon Energy, one of the country’s largest onshore oil and gas producers . . . .

Read the full story on WyoFile here.

West Edge