Interior Department Continues to Process Drilling Applications During Shutdown

A drilling site in Bakersfield, California.

A drilling site in Bakersfield, California. John Ciccarelli/BLM

While thousands of federal workers in the United States have been furloughed due to the partial government shutdown, the Interior Department is still processing oil and gas drilling applications, according to reporting by The Washington Post.

The department’s Bureau of Land Management has processed and accepted 22 new drilling permit applications since the start of the shutdown, the Post reported, including in Alaska, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The department is also moving forward with four public hearings about what activities should be allowed within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, part of its larger effort to open up federal lands and waters in the Arctic to drilling.

“To this point, we have not seen any major effects of the shutdown on our industry,” Mike Sommers, president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, told reporters earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the Interior Department has put a hold on processing other requests, including public records requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.