The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ian Brickey,

Sierra Club Statement on Reforms to Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Today the White House announced new reforms to the federal oil and gas leasing system on public lands.

The new regulations bring much-needed balance to a system that has long favored corporate profits over public benefit. The reforms enacted by the Biden Administration include:

  • Reasonable increases in bonding rates, ensuring oil and gas companies, not taxpayers, pay to clean up messes left by extractive activities;
  • New leasing criteria for future lease sales that will help reduce conflicts with wildlife, cultural, and outdoor recreation resources;
  • An end to “speculative leasing,” which allows oil and gas companies to tie up public lands with little to no chance of resource development;
  • Permanent increases to federal fees required to lease public lands for drilling, to the same levels required by many Western states; and
  • Ending noncompetitive leasing, which allowed public lands to be auctioned off for as little as $1.50 per acre.

In response, Sierra Club Lands Protection Program Director Athan Manuel, released the following statement:

“These new regulations are the kind of common-sense reforms the federal oil and gas leasing program has needed for decades. The days of oil and gas companies locking up public lands for decades for pennies on the dollar and leaving polluted lands, water, and air in their wake are over.

“Simply put, the rules governing the leasing system weren’t working for communities, taxpayers, or the environment. The only people for whom they did work were oil and gas CEOs, who could pad corporate bottom lines while leaving the public to foot the bill to clean up their messes.

“The reforms announced by the Biden Administration are long-overdue, and will ensure that taxpayers get a fair return from the use of federal public lands while limiting harmful impacts to lands, wildlife, and community health.

The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone's right to a healthy world.

(415) 977-5500