Governor comments on GAO report on Oil & Gas Categorical Exclusions
by Governor Freudenthal’s office
September 21, 2009
CHEYENNE - Governor Dave Freudenthal reiterated his concerns with Section 390 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, following the just-released Government Accountability Office report related to the provision. Freudenthal specifically noted the reference to the "shell game" that is detailed in the report.
"On one hand, we heard that the land use plans should not be detailed because the details would be worked out in the project-level analysis. With the passage of these categorical exclusions, we were told that the project-level analysis would not be done in favor of using categorical exclusions, relying on the land use plan level analysis they told us we didn't need in the first place. I don't really care how the analysis is done - I just want it done," Freudenthal said.
The Governor repeated his desire that Congress address the issues raised in the report, including the concerns he has written Congress and the Department of the Interior to address, particularly the problematic 390(b)(3) subsection.
"We have too much at stake in Wyoming - in terms of air quality, water quality and wildlife in particular - to not take the ‘hard look’ that NEPA requires at some point. To short circuit the process may serve some short-term interests of those who want to play fast and loose with the rules - but the better folks in industry understand that such an approach ultimately costs them in the long run," Freudenthal said.
The BLM approved 28% percent of all APDs from 2006 to 2008 under Section 390 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and well over half of that percentage were authorized under the 390(b)(3) subsection.
The Governor concluded by suggesting a measured approach. "But I also want to express my hope that we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater as some have suggested. These categorical exclusions are not categorically bad - some make a great deal of sense. We need to cut with a scalpel and not with an axe," Freudenthal said.
The complete GAO report can be found at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09872.pdf