Trout Unlimited welcomes Interior recommendations for public lands oil and gas reform

TU asks on bonding, speculative leasing are among administration recommendations

Contact: Corey Fisher, Public Lands Policy Director, Trout Unlimited,, 406-546-2979

ARLINGTON, Va.—Momentum is building in Washington to modernize oil and gas leasing policies on public lands following the release of a new report from the Department of the Interior, which recommends increasing minimum bond amounts and curbing speculative leasing of public lands that are unlikely to produce oil or gas—two Trout Unlimited priorities.

Across the western United States, there are more than 37,000 oil and gas leases covering over 26 million acres of public lands. Many of these leases are in sensitive watersheds that are home to native trout, and along rivers and streams cherished by anglers, such as the North Platte River in Colorado, the Yellowstone River in Montana, and the Green River in Wyoming.

“We welcome the Department of the Interior’s efforts to give oil and gas leasing policies a hard look and find sensible ways to modernize public land management,” said Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited president and CEO. “Energy development and fish and wildlife management don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but for far too long the scales have been tipped in favor of development, and conservation has been left holding the short end of the stick.”

Along with increasing minimum bond amounts and curbing speculative leasing, the report also recommends that agencies give careful consideration of impacts to outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat, ensure that oil and gas development is not prioritized over other land uses, and create more transparent leasing and permitting that provides meaningful opportunity for public engagement.

Additionally, the report calls for rulemaking to increase royalties and minimum bids, which would provide a fair return for taxpayers.

The Interior report comes on the heels of House passage earlier this month of the Build Back Better legislation, which includes several oil and gas reforms that TU is seeking. The bill, which the Senate is now considering, would end non-competitive leasing, create new per-acre lease nomination fees, improve bonding requirements, and add a speculative leasing fee for leases that do not produce oil and gas.

“We look forward to working with the Department, public land management agencies and Congress to implement durable solutions that will bring balance back to our shared public lands,” Wood said.

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Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to caring for and recovering America’s rivers and streams so our children can experience the joy of wild and native trout and salmon. Across the country, TU brings to bear local, regional, and national grassroots organizing, durable partnerships, science-backed policy muscle, and legal firepower on behalf of trout and salmon fisheries, healthy waters and vibrant communities.