What is happening with oil and gas leasing on Nevada’s public lands?

Mar 19, 2024

Oil and gas companies continue to lease public lands in Nevada even when the land is unlikely to produce oil. Between 2010-2019, Nevada accounted for less than 1 percent of the total oil produced on U.S. federal lands.

“Listening to some, you may think that oil or natural gas is under every piece of public land and is just waiting to be drilled,” said Russell Kuhlman, Executive Director of the Nevada Wildlife Federation, in a Reno Gazette Journal op-ed. In reality, most land in Nevada is categorized by geologists as having low or no potential for producing oil and gas. Yet companies continue to hold leases on low-potential lands “in order to pad their own portfolios and appease shareholders,” writes Kuhlman. These idle leases interfere with more beneficial land uses, such as conservation, recreation, and renewable energy development.

In recent years, the Bureau of Land Management deferred lease sales for parcels with low or no potential. In 2023, an auction of over 4,000 acres of moderate- to high-potential land received zero bids from the oil and gas industry. This proves that Nevada is not an oil and gas state and could focus on other industries, including renewable energy.

According to the 2024 Conservation in the West Poll, 75 percent of Nevada voters think more emphasis should be placed on conserving wildlife migration routes than on oil and gas production in those areas. Additionally, 63 percent believe oil and gas companies should only be allowed to drill in areas with a high likelihood of producing oil and gas.

Quick hits

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Quote of the day

I cannot understand why Congress refuses to invest more in our national parks when they are so important to local economies and the American people.”

—Phil Francis, chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, The Hill

Picture This

toad glowing in the dark


Gaze upon this glorious green amphibian. This medium-sized plump nocturnal toad can be seen hopping around moving water and has been found in Coal Pits Wash, Pine Creek, Oak Creek, and other side canyons up to 6000 feet in elevation. Strutting around in their olive to brown to pink skin with dark spot sometimes, and usually a light stripe or patch on its head and back.

Like most toads, the glorious Arizona Toad relies on parotoid glands and warts that secrete a poison to deter some predators away.

In Arizona, it is found that they breed between February and April, independent of rainfall. However, here in southwestern Utah, breeding peaks in June and at higher elevations, breeding can extend into July and August.

Although they are not endangered, they’re population is decreasing. This is happening in part due to primarily habitat loss and water withdrawal, or the loss of water from their habitats.Featured photo: Oil rig in the Railroad Valley, Nevada. Don Barrett