We applaud our friends at the Western Energy Alliance for their response to DOI’s incorrect statements about federal oil and gas leasing:
Myth Versus Reality: Federal Onshore Oil & Natural Gas Leasing
Western Energy Alliance, March 2021
One week after taking office, President Biden signed the “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” to ban new oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands and waters. It’s in the form of a “comprehensive review of the federal oil and gas program” regarding wide-ranging impacts on climate change. In discussing the policy, the administration repeats talking points the environmental lobby has been using for years. Let’s check some of that messaging using numbers from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) oil and gas statistics page.
Myth Number One: “Over the last few years the oil and gas industry has stockpiled millions of acres of leases on public lands and waters.”
Leased acreage is at a historic low while production has hit historic levels. From a high of over 120 million acres in 1985, leased acreage is down 78% to 26.6 million, up slightly from all time historic low during the Trump Administration of 25.5 million acres. In fact, industry is more efficient, producing
greater quantities of oil and natural gas from an ever-smaller portion of public lands.
Myth Number Two: “The targeted pause does not impact existing operations or permits for valid, existing leases, which are continuing to be reviewed and approved. The order does not restrict energy activities on private or state lands, or lands that the United States holds in trust or restricted status for Tribes or individual Indians.”
This statement was issued on January 27th, one week after the Acting Interior Secretary had issued a 60-day moratorium that prohibited permit approvals on existing leases except in rare circumstances. We award four Pinocchio’s.
Beyond that temporary permitting moratorium, the Biden Ban on new leasing does indeed impact existing federal leases and restricts activities on adjacent private, state, tribal and Indian allottee lands in other not-so-obvious ways. Because of the interlocking land and mineral ownership in the West, the leasing ban will affect existing projects awaiting adjacent leases. It will affect Indian, state, and private horizontal wells that cannot avoid federal minerals that lie along their laterals. New leases are necessary in both these common situations to move forward with projects on existing leases.
Plus, the plain language of the president’s order is clear. The planned wide-ranging analysis of all impacts of federal oil and natural gas development and production is intended to question all activities, not just leasing. This not-so-temporary leasing ban will morph into a major curtailment of permitting on existing federal leases as DOI looks to achieve “net zero.”
To read the entire Myth vs. Reality, click here.