Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today said his agency should be a partner with oil and gas companies that seek to drill on public land. He said that long regulatory reviews with an uncertain outcome are "un-American."
Speaking to a major energy-industry conference today, Zinke described the Trump administration's efforts to increase offshore drilling, reduce regulations, and streamline inspections of oil and gas operators.
The statements came one day after Interior pulled land in the gateway to Yellowstone National Park out of an oil and gas lease sale next week. Zinke says the area needs more environmental study.
The more than 17,000 acres in the Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone won’t be included in the auction starting next Monday for the rights to explore for oil and gas.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Al Nash says the leases are being deferred from leasing for now. Nash says public comment swayed the BLM’s decision.
"They shared some concerns about the potential effects that oil and gas production might have, say, on scenic views, water quality, other environmental aspects," Nash says.
In an statement, Interior Secretary Zinke said, "Multiple use is about balance. I’ve always said there are places where it is appropriate to develop, and where it is not."
Environmental advocacy groups are praising Interior for listening to their comments and removing the land from lease auction. They say energy development could be devastating for the gateway to Yellowstone National Park.
The BLM says it doesn't have a timeline or plan laid out yet for further environmental review of the land.
Next week’s lease auction will include parcels in more than 46,000 acres that span from the Canadian border to the Montana-Wyoming state line.
Last Friday, Interior abruptly postponed an oil and gas lease sale in New Mexico near Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a sacred tribal site. The agency says detailed analysis of more than 5,000 cultural sites will be done before lots are designated for auction.