Pilot Project to Improve Federal Permit Coordination


Section 365 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the Federal Permit Streamlining Pilot Project to improve coordination of oil and gas permitting on Federal mineral estate as a means of meeting the Nation's need for dependable, affordable, environmentally responsible energy. BLM Field Offices in Rawlins and Buffalo, Wyoming; Miles City, Montana; Farmington and Carlsbad, New Mexico; Grand Junction/Glenwood Springs, Colorado; and Vernal, Utah are designated as project sites.  Pilot Offices are innovators in better coordination of the permitting that allows efficient development and the inspection & enforcement that help ensure environmental responsibility.


A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the BLM, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the USDA-Forest Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staffs the Pilot Offices with specialists in various aspects of permit review, inspection, and enforcement.

The Energy Policy Act also allows state agencies that are responsible for wildlife management, environmental quality and historic preservation, as well as state oil and gas commissions, to become partners in the project.

Year Two Report: Pilot Project to Improve Federal Permit Coordination

Congress further directed the Secretary of the Interior to report on the results of the Pilot Project.  The BLM tracks progress toward key outcomes in each Pilot Office from year to year, in preparation for a formal report to Congress after the close of Fiscal Year 2008.

Year Two of the Pilot Project ended with the close of FY 2007 on September 31, 2007.  An interim progress report shows improvements in processing of oil and gas drilling permits and in enforcement of environment-related conditions attached to leases and permits.  

The Year-Two report finds that the BLM is successfully implementing efforts to streamline processing of oil and gas drilling permits while also improving environmental and resource stewardship. During FY 2007, for instance, the number of applications for permits to drill (APDs) processed in the pilot offices was more than 10 percent above the total for FY 2005. Improved processing allowed the pilot offices to make progress in reducing a backlog of APDs filed by companies in previous years, reducing the number of applications pending in these offices. 

At the same time, pilot office inspection and enforcement (I&E) actions related to permitted oil and gas wells increased substantially. In FY 2007, the pilot offices performed 24 percent more inspections than in FY 2006 and 48 percent more than in FY 2005. The number of environmental inspections in FY 2007 was 78 percent higher than the previous year. 

Pilot offices have also been working aggressively to improve responsiveness to stakeholders.  Pre-permit planning support for operators improves the quality of permits submitted, while outreach meetings with local landowners and user-groups increases understanding of oil and gas development activities within the BLM's multiple use mandate.