Bureau of Land Management Releases Long Overdue Revisions of Its Oil and Gas Leasing Policies
Agency also kicks off new leasing proposal in central Utah
Contact: Landon Newell, 801.428.3991, firstname.lastname@example.org
Salt Lake City, Utah — On Monday November 21, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released new policies to address some of the “significant shortcomings” in its oil and gas program. The new policies limit or close loopholes that the oil and gas industry has used and abused for decades in its push to lock up millions of acres of public land in Utah and across the West for development.
“These commonsense and long overdue changes are just the first steps that must be taken to fix the BLM’s broken oil and gas program,” said Landon Newell, staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “The climate crisis is no longer coming, it has arrived. Droughts, wildfires, floods, famine—this is the ‘new normal’ which is driven in large part by fossil fuel extraction on public lands. The BLM must use its authority to wind down this legacy program if we are to have any hope of avoiding the worst outcomes of a rapidly changing climate. The survival of our planet demands no less.”
Among other important steps, the new policies:
- Restrict a lessee’s ability to stockpile—for an indefinite period of time—millions of acres of unproductive oil and gas leases through unjustified lease suspensions.
- Curtail a lessee’s ability to receive last minute approvals to extend the period of time it has to drill approved permits.
- Discourage new leasing on public lands that contain important resource values such as wildlife habitat and cultural or historic sites.
- Encourage robust public participation in all of the BLM’s leasing decisions.
At the same time it announced these long overdue steps, the BLM also released its plan to offer 18 parcels totaling nearly 32,000 acres of public land in Utah for oil and gas leasing and development. Four of the parcels are in the Fishlake National Forest, only a few miles west of Capitol Reef National Park.
This leasing is unnecessary and will not lower oil and gas prices because companies and speculators have already stockpiled millions of acres of unused leases. In Utah, operators have leased nearly 2.5 million acres of public land for development (see Table 2, here) but have developed just over 1 million acres (see Table 6, here). In other words, only 42 percent of the leased acreage has been developed for oil and gas.