STATEMENT on the Interior Department resuming oil and gas leasing

Aug 16, 2021

New interactive map highlights threats of oil and gas production to hunting, fishing, and critical habitats across the West

Monday, August 16, 2021

DENVER—The Interior Department announced tonight that it will resume the oil and gas leasing process that had been paused by President Biden’s day-one executive order. Interior also confirmed that the Justice Department will appeal the court decision which prompted the restart.

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

“Tonight’s announcements show how urgent it is for Congress to fix the broken and rigged system that governs oil and gas leasing. Last week’s United Nations report on climate change made it crystal clear that we are out of time; the only way to avoid a climate disaster is to rapidly cut carbon emissions.

“While Congress must act, Interior Secretary Haaland must also use every inch of the broad discretion granted to her under America’s bedrock conservation laws to ensure any future lease sales fully account for the costs of drilling to our communities and our climate. Those costs will be borne not by oil and gas CEOs, but by our children and grandchildren. The stakes are too high, and we cannot return to the status quo.”

To demonstrate the threat that unchecked oil and gas production poses to America’s public lands, the Center for Western Priorities just released an interactive map showing three places that were leased to oil and gas companies before the pause on new leasing and are at risk of being developed today. The interactive map highlights drilling proposals under consideration by the Biden administration that threaten:

  • Hunting and fishing in Montana’s Tendoy Mountains
  • Sage-grouse and mule deer habitat near Nevada’s Ruby Mountains
  • Wilderness-quality lands adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument in Utah

These projects highlight a number of issues with our current leasing system, which prioritizes oil and gas companies over the public, wildlife, and the environment, and make it clear why reform is long overdue, especially with leasing set to resume.