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White House: 500-plus drilling permits on hold

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Bureau of Land Management's North Dakota office is sitting on more than 500 oil and gas drilling permit applications, the White House told Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's office this week.

The BLM, which processes permits to drill on federal land, has furloughed more than 10,000 employees since the government shut down Oct. 1.

Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat who is part of a group of bipartisan Senators working to end the shutdown, said the logjam will hurt federal government revenue streams.

She said companies with rigs with outstanding permits may move to private land because they're sick of waiting.

"We've been keeping pretty close tabs on all of these impacts," she said.

About a month ago, BLM's permit backlog was 450, North Dakota Petroleum Council Vice President Kari Cutting said in an email.

NDPC spokeswoman Tessa Sandstrom said the shutdown will only add to delays.

"They already struggle to keep up," she said of the BLM. "Now they're just gonna be that much further behind."