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Several business publications are reporting this morning that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to announce tougher rules for oil and gas companies that want to drill on federal lands. Fast-track permitting would be curtailed, according to The Wall Street Journal and Bureau of Land Management “field staffers would be required to seek additional approvals from their supervisors and to undertake more visits to areas where energy companies are seeking access…”

The BLM manages more than 260 million acres that produce 11% of the nation’s natural gas and 5% of its oil. A Government Accountability Office report has found fault with the way the BLM has granted permits under a 2005 law. Pro-drilling groups say the law has helped speed the opening of new wells and has boosted natural gas production.

Salazar has apparently sided with the GAO and with environmental groups that say the BLM has abused its powers.

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