A long overdue update: bringing the federal oil & gas program into the 21st century

At Trout Unlimited, we believe that energy development and conservation need not be mutually exclusive, but it takes the right polices to strike this balance. Updating our oil and gas policies is a priority – our public lands, waters, wildlife and communities depend on it – and there is already overwhelming public support for the BLM’s federal energy reforms.  In fact, volunteer leaders representing hundreds of thousands of members in local communities across the West have a message for Congress: improve the management of oil and gas development on public lands.

“Trout Unlimited members and supporters in communities across the West are encouraged that the BLM is working to improve the management of oil and gas leasing on public lands,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Too often, we see oil and gas leases proposed on some of our best hunting and fishing habitat and sources of clean water. The BLM’s new energy rules provide the agency with the tools it needs to conserve iconic landscapes and prevent the kinds of irresponsible oil and gas leasing proposals that have threatened special places like the Wyoming Range in Wyoming, Ruby Mountains in Nevada, and Rocky Mountain Front in Montana. Bully to the BLM for bringing balance back to public land management.”

About the plan

In 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) updated federal regulations for the federal onshore oil and gas program, bringing it into the 21st century. The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Rule codifies these important provisions.

The waters on our public lands deserve updated oil and gas rules.

Among them are reasonable fiscal reforms that will better protect our lands and waters, while also ensuring taxpayers get a fair return for the use of our public lands and natural resources. These reforms include:

  • increasing the royalty rate for producing oil and gas on federal public lands
  • realigning fees to account for decades of inflation
  • and reducing speculation by ending non-competitive leasing.

Beyond the IRA, the Onshore Oil and Gas rule includes a host of other long-overdue reforms, including:

  • strengthen accountability for oil and gas operations on public lands
  • preference criteria to steer leasing decisions away from critical fish and wildlife habitats and cultural resources
  • and bonding reforms that are urgently needed to help ensure that oil and gas operators — rather than taxpayers and surrounding communities — bear the cost of cleaning up drilling sites after production ends.

These protections are essential to safeguard our incredible natural resources, public lands, and the wildlife that depend on them.

Wildlife depends on clean habitats

And with overwhelming public support, these reforms are an easy decision: over 260,000 Americans submitted public comments for the record, 99% of which were supportive of the BLM rule.

Act now for your public lands

It is time to finish the job to ensure a brighter future for our public lands, communities, and coldwater fisheries. It’s time for Congress to support the Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Rule.

By Tasha Sorensen.