WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is unveiling new procedures to speed up drilling on public lands.
The move comes as Republicans and the oil industry have criticized the administration for policies that they claim have diminished oil and gas production on public property -- and contributed to high gasoline prices.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday that the new automated systems will reduce permitting time by two-thirds and expedite the leasing of public lands for drilling, without jeopardizing safety.
Data released by the Energy Information Administration in March shows that crude oil production on public lands onshore was at its highest since 2003.
By contrast, natural gas production on federal property was at its lowest point since 2008, but higher than any year from 2003-2007.