Recommendations on legislative, administrative and management modifications to the Federal onshore oil/gas leasing program for a balanced use of public lands.
The Public Lands Foundation (PLF) has released a position statement and provided recommendations to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director and Secretary of the Interior on legislative, administrative and management modifications to the Federal onshore oil and gas leasing program to provide for a more balanced use and conservation of the public lands. Release of this position statement by the PLF follows an announcement by the Secretary on April 15, 2022 that the BLM will offer some 144,000 acres of public land for oil and gas leasing and an increase in the royalty rate for these competitive leases from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent. These actions follow the release by the Department of the Interior of a report in November 2021 on the Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The PLF supports the decision to increase the royalty rate for oil and gas leases on the public lands but also recommends further improvements.
There have been calls to modify the oil and gas leasing procedures on the public lands for several years and demands to modify the BLM regulations for oil and gas exploration and development activities. However, based on BLM’s multiple-use mandate in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the authorities provided by the Mineral Leasing Act, a thoughtful and reasoned approach of balancing resource use and conservation is recommended for any oil and gas leasing reforms.
Mary Jo Rugwell, PLF President, said “the public lands administered by the BLM are an important source of our Nation’s energy needs and exploration and development of onshore Federal oil and gas resources on these lands will contribute to our economy for the future. However, improvements to the onshore oil and gas leasing program on the public lands can be made.”
The PLF position statement includes several recommendations for legislative changes, in addition to the increase in royalty rates for leases on the public lands. The PLF also provides recommendations to revise and update regulations and procedures to improve bonding requirements, environmental reviews and mitigation requirements, and methane and waste prevention procedures. The PLF also supports increased funding for monitoring, inspection, and enforcement activities of oil and gas operations on the public lands.
The Public Lands Foundation (PLF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep America’s public lands in public hands, professionally and sustainably managed for responsible common use and enjoyment. Founded in 1987, the PLF advocates for sound public land management, provides scholarships to students, cosponsors a Student Congress biannually, and provides opportunities for Bureau of Land Management retirees to stay involved in public land management issues. The PLF position statement is available on the PLF website at www.publicland.org.