Statement on Congressional hearing to reverse oil and gas leasing reforms

Oct 25, 2023

DENVER—The House Natural Resources Committee held a subcommittee hearing today on a draft bill sponsored by Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert that would prevent the Interior department from completing a rule that implements reforms to the federal oil and gas leasing system, signed into law as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

During the hearing, Rep. Boebert claimed that the rule is “proof that Joe Biden is using every tool in his administration to dismantle American energy production,” and went on to call it “unjustifiable.” On the contrary, the rulemaking that is underway would implement the law as passed, and enact long-overdue reforms to the bonds that drillers have to post in order to ensure oil and gas wells are cleaned up if companies go bankrupt.

The Center for Western Priorities issued the following statement from Deputy Director Aaron Weiss:

“The recent reforms to the oil and gas leasing system are already working. It’s no wonder Representative Boebert wants to erase them and put industry back in charge of America’s public lands. When companies profit off publicly-owned oil and gas, the least they can do is clean up after themselves. Representative Boebert’s bill would let them walk away and leave taxpayers with the bill.

“In the most recent Wyoming lease sale, companies didn’t even bother to bid on half of what the Bureau of Land Management put up for auction—all of it land nominated by the industry in the first place. More than 80 percent of the revenue from the lease sale came from less than four percent of the acres offered. In other words, oil and gas companies are already sitting on more public land than they know what to do with.

“The proposed oil and gas rule is just common sense—that’s why more than 99 percent of the public comments on the rule told the agency to adopt or even strengthen the rule. Representative Boebert’s bill would do the opposite. She is literally advocating for the one percent today.”

Learn more

  • Analysis: Public comments overwhelmingly support BLM Oil and Gas Rule [Center for Western Priorities]
  • A ‘war on American energy’? So why is oil production near record highs? [Washington Post]
  • Oil industry to Wyoming public lands: We’re just not that into you [Westwise]
  • Additional analysis of Q3 2023 Wyoming oil and gas lease sale [Center for Western Priorities]
  • 2019 GAO Report: BLM faces millions of dollars in liability from abandoned oil and gas wells [Government Accountability Office]
  • Taking stock of the Biden administration’s oil and gas reforms [Westwise]
  • The key piece still missing from federal oil and gas leasing reform [Westwise]