Pervasive problems in the system for leasing federal land for oil and gas development reduce the revenue generated for taxpayers from the use of public resources at the best of times. In light of these problems, global economic uncertainty, and volatile energy markets, Taxpayers for Common Sense urged the Department of the Interior (DOI) to cancel its plans to auction off federal land for oil and gas development.
Instead, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the DOI agency responsible for the onshore federal oil and gas program, held lease sales in three western states on Tuesday. The sale made plots of land, known as parcels, available for oil and gas exploration and development in the states of Nevada, Wyoming, and Montana.
The lease sales were, unsurprisingly, a disappointment. Of the 45 parcels made available in the state of Nevada, just two received bids, both at $2 per acre – the minimum the BLM can legally accept. Of the acres leased in the Wyoming sale, 64 percent received bids of $10 or less. In Montana, seven of the eight parcels sold for less than $10 per acre.
These are taxpayer–owned lands containing valuable natural resources. The BLM’s fiscally irresponsible decision to continue leasing in the current economic climate is costing taxpayers valuable revenue at a time when Congress is poised to make trillion-dollar outlays.