As directed by Congress, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will adjust the fee it charges to process oil and gas drilling permits on public and Indian lands for inflation, effective October 1, 2019. That adjustment will increase the fee by $180, to $10,230.
The non-refundable processing fee is collected when an oil and gas operator submits a drilling permit (called an Application for Permit to Drill or APD), and is required whether or not a particular permit is subsequently approved. Congress established the fee and directed the BLM to adjust the APD fee annually for inflation over 10 years as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015.
To carry out this statutory requirement, the BLM has issued guidance to its field offices regarding the collection and handling of APD fees in the current fiscal year. The new guidance largely tracks prior guidance with respect to collection and handling policies such as when the fee is required; when the BLM will begin processing the APD; and acceptable forms of payment.
This fee is an important component of the funding for the BLM’s permitting program and enhances the agency’s ability to coordinate with other Federal and State agencies in connection with oil and gas permitting, streamlining permit review processes, and reducing permitting times. Fifteen percent of the fees are directly returned to the BLM field office that collected the fees to offset some of the costs of processing protests, leases, and permits. The remaining 85 percent is used to support project offices that perform the majority of the permit processing and inspection work across the BLM. In Fiscal Year 2019, the BLM collected almost $51 million in APD fees.