BLM may start charging for drilling permits |

BLM may start charging for drilling permits

Donna Gray
Post Independent Staff

The Bureau of Land Management should charge gas operators for up-front costs. So says a Government Accountability Office report that concluded that the BLM needs to recover some of the costs of processing drilling permits.

Earlier this month, the BLM proposed new drill permit fees. Gas operators would pay $1,600 for a drilling permit in the first year. They’d go up $500 a year thereafter over five years, with a cap of $4,000.

If Glenwood were charging the fee this year, it would amount to $1 million in new income, Connell said. But it would be up to Congress to decide how much would come back here. The BLM is taking public comment on the proposal until Aug. 18.

Currently, gas operators pay for leasing federal land through a bidding process, Connell explained. But that money goes into a BLM general fund, and it’s hard to track how much money, if any, comes back to a particular field office.

As a counter move to the fee proposal, this week Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, proposed an amendment to the federal energy bill that would set up a pilot program giving the busiest BLM offices 50 percent of the federal leasing receipts.

Hatch’s move “would ensure that process improvements are made before the government can begin collecting fees for work it’s required to do,” said Marc Smith, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, in a prepared statement.

IPAMS believes the BLM’s service needs to be improved before it begins charging for drilling permits.

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