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Agencies within the Department of the Interior use 3 data systems to oversee oil and gas development on leased federal lands. The data systems process permits for drilling wells, among other things.
The systems are aging and create oversight challenges for the department.
Federal onshore oil and gas leases generate about $3 billion a year in federal revenues. Leases are sold in competitive auctions. If there aren't adequate bids in an auction, leases can be sold noncompetitively.
The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management oversees energy production on federal lands and collects royalties to help ensure a fair return for taxpayers.
Oil and gas producers faced a sharp drop in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of Land Management manages oil and gas development on federal lands and processes drilling applications. Each year it receives more applications than it can review. It also approves more permits than operators use.
About a decade ago, we found that the Department of the Interior may not have been collecting all of the royalties that oil and gas companies owed the federal government. In 2011, we added Interior's oil and gas management to our High Risk List.
After mining, a coal company is required to restore the land it disturbed, e.g., by regrading or replanting. The federal government requires coal companies to get bonds to assure their payment for these activities.
The Bureau of Land Management requires oil and gas companies on federal lands to use the Bureau's best environmental management practices. The Bureau also inspects oil and gas wells to verify that the practices are in use and assess how well they actually protect the environment.