On Friday, Senator Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced the “End Speculative Oil and Gas Leasing Act of 2020.” The bill would prevent the Department of the Interior from offering oil and gas development leases on federal lands in areas with low production potential in order to conserve federal resources and prevent federal land from being tied up from other uses. In response, Steve Ellis, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, issued the following statement:
Taxpayers deserve to have the federal land they own managed responsibly and strategically. Instead, current policies let oil and gas companies, speculators, or anyone off the street lock up federal land for little more than a handful of pennies. Last year, 13 million acres of federal land sat idle and was unavailable for any other use. By charging rental rates that were set when the Berlin Wall was still standing and letting companies lease federal land noncompetitively, federal agencies are allowing taxpayers to get ripped off and limiting our access to public lands.
Focusing the federal resources necessary to manage oil and gas leasing on areas where oil and gas is likely to be found is just smart policy. By requiring DOI factor the production potential of land into the leasing process, Americans can reclaim access to valuable public lands for which oil and gas production is not the highest and best use.
Thank you to Senator Cortez Masto for her leadership to bring some much-needed common sense into the federal oil and gas system.