NWF: Bill on drilling permits could be vehicle to fund well inspections

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National Wildlife Federation urges lawmakers to give as much consideration to human, environmental health as the speedy processing of applications for federal drilling permits

07-29-2014 // Judith Kohler

A proposal to extend a pilot program aimed at preventing backlogs of drilling applications for federal lands provides an opportunity to address another backlog – uninspected oil and gas wells on our public lands.

Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director, urged the Senate committee hearing

S. 2440 on Tuesday to give as much consideration to safeguarding human and environmental health as the quick processing of drilling permits. The bill, which would increase drilling application fees, could be a vehicle to establish fees to boost the Bureau of Land Management’s capacity to inspect well sites, she added.

"The Bureau of Land Management says about 7,000 drilling permits that have been approved are sitting idle. Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office says the BLM has failed to inspect thousands of wells that could pose threats to the environment,” Zimmerman said. “If we don’t adequately fund and staff the agencies charged with ensuring that energy development is carried out responsibly, we risk polluting our air and water, endangering fish and wildlife and losing the ability to hunt, fish and recreate on public lands."

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