Biden administration announces reforms to federal oil and gas leasing system on public lands

The Bureau of Land Management’s new Oil and Gas Rule is said to save taxpayers money, help ensure public lands are used for their highest value, and better protect communities and the environment.

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The reforms enacted by the Biden Administration include new standards when the fossil fuel industry seeks to lease and develop oil and gas on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management’s new Oil and Gas Rule is said to save taxpayers money, help ensure public lands are used for their highest value, and better protect communities and the environment.

The final version of Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Oil and Gas Rule is “responsive to Congressional direction by codifying fiscal provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, according to BLM.

“The reforms announced by the Biden Administration are long-overdue, and will ensure that taxpayers get a fair return from the use of federal public lands while limiting harmful impacts to lands, wildlife, and community health,” Athan Manuel, lands protection program director at Sierra Club, said.

The new regulations, as reported by the Sierra Club, include:

  • Reasonable increases in bonding rates, ensuring oil and gas companies, not taxpayers, pay to clean up messes left by extractive activities;
  • New leasing criteria for future lease sales that will help reduce conflicts with wildlife, cultural, and outdoor recreation resources;
  • An end to “speculative leasing,” which allows oil and gas companies to tie up public lands with little to no chance of resource development;
  • Permanent increases to federal fees required to lease public lands for drilling, to the same levels required by many Western states; and
  • Ending noncompetitive leasing, which allowed public lands to be auctioned off for as little as $1.50 per acre.

Since public lands, which are overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, “are essential to fishing and hunting, wildlife and land conservation, and outdoor recreation economies,” many environmental groups applaud the White House’s announcement.

“This new rule should be regarded as a long overdue win for communities and the environment. For decades, taxpayers have been left to foot the bill to clean up toxic messes left behind by oil companies across the West, while some of the same companies made record profits,” Mike Freeman, said Earthjustice attorney, said.

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