LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The U.S. Department of Interior released a long-awaited review of the agency’s oil and gas leasing program on public lands. The report recognized shortcomings of the program and called for reforms that will provide a fairer return to taxpayers, hold companies accountable for cleanup, and develop more opportunities for meaningful engagement from Tribal, state, and local governments.
In response to the recent announcement, Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Paul Selberg released the following statement:
“Reforming the federal oil and gas leasing program will benefit states like Nevada that depend on public lands for hunting, fishing, tourism, and outdoor recreation. Congress must move quickly to address the issues outlined in the Department of Interior’s new report. Congress now has a historic opportunity to implement these widely popular reforms as part of the Build Back Better Act and make sure that oil and gas CEOs pay their fair share. We can’t miss this chance to protect our public lands and natural resources for generations to come.”
Nevada’s Senators have modeled strong federal leadership in rebuilding and modernizing the federal oil and gas leasing program with Senator Cortez Masto’s legislation to end speculative leasing on lands with low drilling potential and Senator Rosen’s bill to modernize royalty rates to ensure Nevadans receive a fair return for the use of public lands.
The oil and gas industry has stockpiled millions of acres of leases on public lands and waters. Onshore, of the more than 26 million acres under lease to the oil and gas industry, nearly 13.9 million (or 53%) of those acres are unused and non-producing. Offshore, of the more than 12 million acres of public waters under lease, over 9.3 million (or 77%) of those acres are unused and non-producing.
Nevada voters value public spaces and demonstrate great concern over the use of public lands. A conservation poll shows 75 percent of Nevadans think oil and gas development on national public lands should be stopped or strictly limited as opposed to expanded. The same poll also finds that 74 percent prefer their Members of Congress emphasize conservation and recreation over maximizing energy development on public lands.