Zinke: Interior, oil should partner

HOUSTON — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said his agency should be a partner with oil and gas companies that seek to drill on public land and that long regulatory reviews with an uncertain outcome are “un-American.”

Speaking Tuesday to a major energy-industry conference, Zinke described the Trump administration’s efforts to increase offshore drilling, reduce regulations, and streamline inspections of oil and gas operators.

“Interior should not be in the business of being an adversary. We should be in the business of being a partner,” Zinke said to a receptive audience that included leaders of energy companies and oil-producing countries.

Zinke said the government should shorten the permitting process for energy infrastructure — it shouldn’t take longer than two years.

The Interior Department manages 500,000 million acres — one-fifth of the U.S. land mass — as well as the lease of offshore areas for oil drilling. One-fifth of U.S. oil production takes place on land or water that the Interior Depart­ment leases to private energy companies.

Environmentalists accuse Zinke and the administration of undercutting environmental rules to help oil, gas and coal companies.