STATEMENT on the oil and gas industry’s forfeited public lands stockpile

Mar 23, 2021

March 23, 2021

Data show surrendered drilling permits and leases on national public lands

DENVER—A new report released today by the Center for Western Priorities finds that, despite spending recent months fearmongering about the Biden administration’s temporary pause on federal oil and gas leases, the oil and gas industry forfeited thousands of drilling leases and permits over the last decade.

Between 2011 and 2020, the oil and gas industry failed to use more than 20 million acres of approved onshore federal leases in the West. Similarly, between 2016 and 2020, more than 8,400 approved onshore drilling permits (APDs)—54% of all APDs approved during those five years—either expired without being used or are currently sitting unused.

In other words, the industry has had the chance to take advantage of thousands of drilling permits and millions of acres of federal drilling leases, but it hasn’t. It is clear that the Biden administration’s leasing pause will not adversely impact companies, as they already regularly and voluntarily surrender leases and permits.

The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:

“The oil and gas industry has surrendered millions of acres over the past decade, showing that their attempts to paint the Biden administration’s temporary leasing pause as catastrophic are disingenuous. After years of taking advantage of the broken oil and gas leasing system that allowed them to stockpile more leases and permits than they could use, their ‘Chicken Little’ routine isn’t fooling anyone.” 

“Operators have forfeited numerous tangible opportunities to drill, wasting government resources while demonstrating that they have no urgent need for additional federal leases or permits.”

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