The Department of the Interior admitted to Congress on Thursday morning that it could process oil and natural gas drilling applications more efficiently than it does right now during a hearing on the administration’s management of federal property.
GOP investigators have stepped up their probe into possible political favoritism by the Department of the Interior (DOI) toward several solar companies that received fast-tracked leases on federal lands, as well as billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees.
The Obama administration is taking an undeserved victory lap for increased U.S. production of oil, Republicans and proponents of expanded oil production say. The administration’s latest attempt to claim it is expanding oil production came from the Department of Interior. The agency recently announced a new program to streamline and automate permit applications for oil and gas drilling.
The Department of Interior’s fast-tracked approval of several major solar projects in California and Nevada has raised questions over negative environmental impacts and the agency’s adherence to environmental regulations. On March 11, 2009, the Department of Interior [DOI] issued a secretarial order to fast track the siting of renewable energy projects on public lands managed by the agency. The move was part of the administration’s larger green energy initiative, which has pumped billions of dollars in stimulus money into renewable energy.