On March 25, 2021 the Department of Interior (DOI) convened a public forum to gather input from panelists as DOI conducts a comprehensive review of oil and gas permitting processes on federally managed public lands and waters. DOI seeks to “restore balance to public lands and waters and create a path to align with climate conservation and clean energy goals.” This review is mandated by Executive Order (EO) 14008 issued on January 27. DOI plans to issue an interim report this summer. The public may provide written online substantive ideas and recommendations through April 15. DOI Secretary Deb Haaland opened the forum, followed by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, Laura Daniel-Davis, who hosted the discussion. and asked questions. BLM Deputy Director of Policy and Programs presented an overview of pertinent laws and regulations and also posed questions of panelists. Culver noted that most public lands that are not required to be closed to oil and gas leasing have been are open to leasing before the Administration’s pause promulgated by EO.
Daniel-Davis also asked how DOI “can more meaningfully engage marginalized communities that are facing disproportionate impacts from pollution.” Panelists responded that there are organizations who have those connections and can help DOI, as well inviting their experiences and insights, perhaps through a formation of a federal advisory committee. Another recommendation was to extend comment periods and public notice across languages, and holding open public forums in communities where there is potential development.
Industry announced that American Petroleum Institute has developed a 5-point plan to engage with the Administration and voiced its support for climate goals and reducing emissions. Academic experts made recommendations as to how to improve onshore programs in the areas of increasing minimum bids to reduce speculation, and increasing rental fees and royalty rates; greater use of lease stipulations and conditions in applications for permits to drill (APDs).
The forum was recorded and will be available on DOI’s utube channel.