CASPER, Wyo.—Permit applications for new oil and gas drilling and mining operations on federal land in the Rocky Mountain region are piling up at the Bureau of Land Management because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.
Federal oil and gas lease sales also may be affected. One such sale, scheduled Nov. 5, might be postponed, The Casper Star-Tribune reported. A similar sale in New Mexico set for Thursday has been postponed.
“The biggest thing we are going to run into is a backlog of permits and permitting actions” at the BLM, said John Robitaille, vice president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming.
Companies are used to waiting up to a year or more for federal drilling and mining permits, but the shutdown isn’t adding certainty to the slow process.
Last year, the Petroleum Association of Wyoming raised $100,000 to help the BLM hire workers to speed up permitting in the state. That isn’t an option during the shutdown: Nobody knows how long it might last, and the association could raise funds only to see the government open up again.