Statement on Second Quarter Oil and Gas Lease Sales
The Interior Department’s ongoing review of the federal oil and gas program is assessing compliance with applicable laws and, as directed by Executive Order 14008, reviewing whether the current leasing process provides taxpayers with a fair return.
Based on our ongoing review, the Bureau of Land Management is exercising its discretion to not hold lease sales in the 2nd quarter of Calendar Year 2021. This decision does not impact existing operations or permits for valid, existing leases, which continue to be reviewed and approved. The BLM remains committed to managing our programs in a way that restores balance on public lands, creates jobs, and provides a path to align the management of America's public lands with our nation's climate, conservation, and clean energy priorities.
On January 27, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crises at Home and Abroad (E.O. 14008). Section 208 of E.O. 14008 mandates that “the Secretary of the Interior shall pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands . . . pending completion of a comprehensive review and reconsideration of Federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practices in light of [her] broad stewardship responsibilities over the public lands . . . , including potential climate and other impacts” and to “consider whether to adjust royalties.” The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 provides the Secretary of the Interior discretion regarding whether to lease Federal lands and, as a result, whether to identify eligible lands that are available to be included in quarterly lease sales. This discretion has been delegated to the Bureau of Land Management.
The ongoing review is assessing, among other issues, whether the current leasing process provides taxpayers with a fair return for extraction of the Nation’s oil and gas resources; how to ensure it complies with applicable laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, and the United States’ trust responsibilities; and how it will take into account climate change and environmental justice. In recent years, courts have found the current leasing process in violation of various governing laws, invalidating both the BLM’s guidance and a number of lease sales. In connection with the review, the BLM will analyze and ensure that any future leasing complies with applicable law— including requirements for evaluating greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts—to better withstand administrative and judicial review. The comprehensive review required by E.O. 14008 has the potential to identify and recommend solutions for serious deficiencies in the leasing regime.
The Trump administration conducted a fire sale of public lands and waters, offering more than 25 million acres onshore during the past four years, 5.6 million of which were purchased. Offshore, more than 78 million acres were offered for lease to oil, gas, and mineral development offshore, and only 5 million acres were purchased.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.