Washington, DC – The Director of the Bureau of Land Management says they are making positive strides in processing oil and gas drilling permits. Energy producers have been unhappy with the pace of BLM permitting. But BLM Director Kathleen Clarke told a congressional committee last week that they've improved their output by about 67% over the last several years. Clarke says it's a challenge because of the sheer volume of applications they are seeing. She thinks delays in drilling are also the result of the number of leases that are protested. She says protests are up more then 660% in the last four years. In Utah, for example, Clarke says there are leases that were protested in 2003 that are still working their way through the system.