BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. officials say applications to drill for oil and gas on federal and Indian lands are expected to decrease 40 percent in coming years versus their historical average.
The projection comes as cheap prices have curtailed domestic energy exploration, driving down state and federal revenue.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Thursday will announce a proposal for all drilling applications to be filed online, in an effort to streamline the approval process.
The move follows years of criticism from the energy sector over the Obama administration’s handling of drilling applications. Industry groups say lengthy delays drive up costs.
Bureau spokeswoman Bev Winston says the move to online permitting will allow 90 percent of applications to be completed within 115 days. The average time in 2015 was 220 days.