"Because BLM does not consistently track exception request data or have a consistent process for considering requests and clearly documenting decisions, BLM may be unable to provide reasonable assurance that it is meeting its environmental responsibilities," the report stated.
One example cited was BLM’s approval of company environmental exemption requests that allow drilling during times when certain wildlife is present in the area, by claiming the animals failed to show up.
Fewer than half of the 42 BLM offices surveyed tracked data on exception requests, the report explained. Additionally, the GAO found the process for tracking the requests and documentation varied by office.
GAO further found that BLM generally does not use data collected from inspections to assess the effectiveness of permit requirements in mitigating environmental impacts.