Two oil producing states praised the Biden Administration for opening up regional Bureau of Land Management offices to issue oil drilling permits on federal land. A moratorium on oil and gas leasing is still effect and being challenged by court actions.

The action reverses an earlier January decision by the Biden Administration to stop all permitting and leasing.

“This is very good news,” said Alan Olson, executive director of the Montana Petroleum Assn. “Issuing the federal permits in the BLM regional offices will definitely speed up the process.”

The permitting stop had held up approval in a 1,921-acre spacing unit in Richland County, Olson said, where 1700 acres in 40-acre tracts ran across the middle of it, preventing the unit from being developed.

“The BLM is issuing permits again,” said Lynn Helms, director of the ND Dept. of Mineral Resources. That action enables operators to include federal tracts in proposed spacing units.

In an emailed statement, the Interior Department said BLM officials would process applications for permits “and related sundry activities on valid, existing leases in a timely manner.” Senior officials in Washington, DC had been authorized to issue permits.

The BLM will also post monthly updates on pending and approved drilling permits.