By Timothy Cama - 04/10/14 02:54 PM EDT
The Interior Department released a strategy document Thursday that it said will create certainty and predictability for oil, natural gas and other energy developers using federal land while taking a “landscape-scale” approach to mitigating impacts.
The strategy emphasizes siting and design features in development to mitigate the impacts to federal lands, while seeking to protect or restore resources that must be harmed. It comes as energy development is increasing rapidly on federal property, and the Obama administration is under constant pressure to allow more.
Going forward, Interior said its policies with development will focus on four areas to determine the impacts to resources: geospatial assessments, landscape-level strategies, mitigation programs that compensate for impacts; and monitoring and evaluating projects as they proceed.
Jewell asked for Interior to write the strategy in October, her first order as secretary.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) welcomed Interior’s new strategy.
“Secretary Jewell’s announcement today is another step toward providing much-needed reforms and modernizations to a federal oil and gas program that is well behind the times,” Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at CAP, said in a statement. “Establishing a clear plan for reducing and mitigating the impacts of energy development on public lands is critical to ensuring the sustainability of the current energy boom and the long-term health of America’s lands and forests.”