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The U.S. Department of the Interior this week quietly removed Obama-era reforms to the leasing of federal land for oil and gas drilling in a move to "simplify and streamline" the process, according to a memo sent to field staff on Jan. 31.
The instruction memorandum sent to field officials by the acting director of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) updated the review process for leasing out federal land for oil and gas production to speed up permitting of new lease sales.
The memo effectively erases the reforms implemented by the Obama administration aimed at including input from environmentalists and local tourist industry groups in the process of leasing federal land for drilling, which the oil and gas industry said was time-consuming and redundant.
"This [Instructional Memorandum] aims to simplify and streamline the leasing process for more efficient and effective oil and gas lease management," the memo said, adding that policy changes would result in "additional revenue from increased lease sales" and reduced costs for environmental reviews and responses to protests.
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