By MEAD GRUVER, AP
Cheyenne, Wyo. – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has begun collecting a higher processing fee each time that oil and gas companies apply for permits to drill.
The $6,500 fee is part of the Interior Department appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on Oct. 30. The new fee is a 62 percent increase from the previous fee of $4,000.
The BLM began collecting the fee in 2008. BLM officials say the fee is used to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for the cost of processing new drilling permit applications.
The BLM manages 258 million surface acres of public land, most of it in 12 Western states. The agency also administers 700 million acres of subsurface minerals nationwide.