The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), within the U.S. Department of Interior, decides oil and gas leasing rules on all national public lands. The Monongahela National Forest and the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve depend on BLM rules to ensure our national public lands are managed wisely.
BLM has not revised the oil and gas leasing rules for more than 60 years! During that time, the costs to process applications and the true costs for remediation and capping abandoned wells have not kept up with inflation. Companies have taken the profits, and taxpayers have been stuck with the clean-up costs. The BLM is currently spending $250 million in taxpayer funds to clean up abandoned wells. This simply isn’t fair.
The good news is the BLM has proposed comprehensive new rules to help assure that the companies pay the true clean-up costs. These proposed modernized rules:
- Set fees to reflect the true costs of applications.
- Increase bond amounts to reflect the true costs of remediation while also considering future inflation.
- End unfair and costly non-competitive bid leasing, and make sure companies buying out existing leases are real companies separate from the previous lease owner.
- Increase reporting requirements actions on temporarily idle wells to avoid abandoned well situations.
These proposals are good common sense and will help preserve our national public lands. We’d also like to see BLM include climate and public health impacts as a part of any new lease agreement. The deadline to submit comments is September 22, 2023.
Together, we can conserve our national public lands and help ensure oil and gas companies are responsible for cleaning up their messes.