Bureau of Land Management Begins Western Onshore Lease Sales After Federal Judge’s Order
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of the Interior is scheduled today to complete its first auction of leases on public lands for oil and gas drilling. The auctions of more than 128,000 acres in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico came about one year after a federal judge ordered the Biden administration to end a pause on leasing put in place since the start of 2021.
In a report released last week, Public Citizen examined how the federal government has failed to charge the fossil fuel industry a fair price for oil and gas drilling on public lands, allowing 20 major oil companies to escape paying up to $5.8 billion in royalties since 2013.
In response to the restart of lease sales, Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, issued the following statement:
“Selling off more public lands for drilling might help Big Oil, but it won’t lower gas prices and it will worsen climate chaos. Any oil extracted from leases issued now will have no conceivable effect on today’s gasoline prices. More drilling won’t help in any case, because so much U.S.-drilled oil is now being diverted to export. More drilling contributes to worsening climate chaos and distracts us from investing in renewables.
“While these lease sales are a disaster, the only sliver of positive news is that the Biden administration is finally forcing oil and gas companies to pay a fair rate for the privilege of exploiting our public lands. The Biden administration must follow up by making that higher rate permanent and enact rules forcing oil and gas companies to take responsibility for cleaning up their own mess.
“The U.S. fossil fuel industry continues to export oil and gas with reckless abandon, forcing Americans to pay more at the pump, as they maximize profit by selling U.S. oil overseas. The pathway to affordable energy involves turning away from fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable power to charge our cars and heat our homes.”