President Obama’s re-election campaign received a major boost as brown jobs helped rekindle the economy in states like Ohio, but his administration has fought the brown jobs machine almost every step of the way. The federal permitting system for drilling, for example, now takes twice as long as it did in 2005 and more than ten times as long as it takes in some states. (Thanks to an alert Via Meadia reader for pointing us to this story via Warren Meyer’s blog.) The right-leaning Institute for Energy Research has more:
The federal government leases less than 6 percent of its onshore lands for oil and gas development. Under the Obama Administration, the rate of leasing has slowed by about half. [ . . . ]The time it takes to receive a permit to drill on federal lands has doubled since fiscal year 2005 when it took 154 days to receive a drilling permit compared to 307 days in fiscal year 2011. The Obama Administration issued almost 40 percent fewer permits and took twice the time to do it. Since fiscal year 2008, the amount of time that industry needs to take to “resolve any deficiencies” in an application has tripled.
The president’s team has had to balance environmental concerns with the potential for new sources of unconventional energy to completely change global energy politics and position the U.S. as a leading energy exporter. While the administration hasn’t been totally spooked by Deepwater Horizon, the delays in federal permitting (whether a result of bureaucratic fumblings or kowtowing to greens) are a cause for concern. Fortunately, according to the IER, some states are getting it right:
It takes only 10 days to receive a permit to drill on North Dakota state lands, where the shale oil boom has made North Dakota the second largest state oil producer in the United States. . . . And in Colorado, it takes 27 days to process a drilling permit application from its receipt to the permit issuance. Because each state has unique geography, topography, geology, hydrogeology and meteorology, the states are well suited to review these applications and they are light-years ahead of the federal government in terms of experience and know-how about their individual state lands.
Safety is an important concern, but we need to continue drilling. Permits can be an important tool for quality control, but if the federal government continues to slow down the process, then it makes sense to reevaluate who should be issuing these permits. Once again, the fifty laboratories have proven their worth. Especially for land based drilling, turning these issues over to the states could make a lot of sense.