Colo. drillers will pay $4,000 for permits |

Colo. drillers will pay $4,000 for permits

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Bureau of Land Management is now charging a $4,000 processing fee for each new oil and gas drilling application, the agency announced on Wednesday.

The directive to charge for the permits was inserted into a $555-billion spending bill that President Bush signed on Dec. 26. Before the change, the bureau did not charge for processing these permits.

Marc Smith, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, criticized the new fee, calling it the “epitome of bad government” when increased costs come without improved levels of service.

“It is a new tack on domestic energy production, and it won’t do anything to ensure that Americans have the affordable energy they need,” Smith said.

“This will have a big impact on smaller and locally owned and managed energy companies. It makes it more costly to plan and go through the planning process,” he added.

Smith said he could understand the fees if the money were returned to the field office where it was generated, creating a self-sustaining funding mechanism that would ensure that land managers have the resources they need as drilling activity increases and decreases.

The new fee is a positive development for Duke Cox, interim executive director of the Western Colorado Congress, an advocacy organization that supports environmental stewardship. Cox, a builder by trade, compared the situation to applying for a building permit.

“Every building permit that I apply for, I reimburse either the county, the city or whatever the jurisdiction is,” Cox said. “I reimburse them for the cost of processing my permit before I begin to build. To ask (energy companies) to pay their own way is something that is finally being done. It should have been done years ago, but they have been getting a pass for a long time.”

Bureau of Land Managment statistics show tha permits were issued in Colorado from October 2006 to September 2007. Of those, 677 were issued for northwest Colorado.

The bureau anticipates that northwestern field offices will process 800 permits for the agency’s 2008 fiscal year. The new fees would generate about $3.2 million.

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