Interior may appeal ruling on drilling permits

The Interior Department says it will explore its options for appealing a federal judge's decision requiring the department to make decisions on five pending deep-water drilling permits within 30 days.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, addressing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in a budget hearing Thursday, said he disagrees with the ruling.

"The judge in this particular case, in my view, is wrong, and we will argue the case because I don't believe that the court has the jurisdiction to basically tell the Department of Interior what my administrative responsibilities are," Salazar said.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman of Louisiana ordered the department on February 17 to make decisions regarding five deep-water drilling permits within a 30-day period. While the department goes over its options for appeal, an Interior spokesperson told National Journal Daily, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement is proceeding with reviewing all permit applications to ensure they meet safety standards.

The spokesperson said the judge did not explicitly order BOEMRE to issue all five permits, just to review them promptly.

This week, Interior granted the first deep-water permit since last year's BP oil spill. That permit is not among the five included in the judge's ruling, an Interior Department spokesperson confirmed. National Journal learned on Tuesday that BP owns nearly half of the newly approved Noble Energy well.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources members expressed their desire for speedy permitting Wednesday.

"If you look at the amount of oil that could be produced, the moratorium is probably costing the United States 200,000 barrels of new supply and maybe up to 680,000 of barrels per day if it lasts for a couple years," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Pressing Salazar, Portman said domestic production is becoming increasingly important "as energy prices are going up and foreign oil is becoming even more expensive," and he asked, "How quickly can we get oil production back?"

But Salazar assured Portman and the panel that more permits are on their way, and soon.

"There are other deep-water permits that are pending, and the ones that will go out the door will hopefully be the templates that will allow us to move forward with an additional significant number of deep-water permits," Salazar said.

BOEMRE confirmed that additional permits are coming.

"Director [Michael] Bromwich has consistently said we expect to issue more permits in the next weeks, but there are a very small amount of pending permits," BOEMRE spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz told National Journal Daily.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.