By Kristin Espeland
Laramie, WY – The US forest service recently revealed that it wants to streamline environmental reviews for oil and gas drilling projects on national grasslands. Currently, the service's rocky mountain region counts nearly 80 requests for drilling permits on its backlog. And spokeswoman Melody Holm says that finding efficiencies in the environmental review process could help clear it. Holm says the forest service has enough experience reviewing smaller drilling projects. And she says that's why they fall into a category of good candidates for a new method of determining environmental impacts. That means the nature of the drilling project could exclude it from the necessity of filing the traditional environmental review paperwork. Holm says no project is approved without complying with environmental review requirements. But she also says they have not denied a single request to drill for oil or gas based on environmental impacts.