The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) within the U.S. Department of the Interior manages natural resource development on more than 250 million acres of federal land. In states with eligible lands, the BLM holds quarterly auctions for the rights to lease and produce oil and gas on federal land. Bid revenue from these auctions is a critical part of what taxpayers receive in exchange for the use of the land and development of resources we own, in what should be a mutually-beneficial partnership between the federal government and private industry. But outdated leasing policies, and an overabundance of available public lands, coupled with low rates of return have led to the loss of billions of dollars in federal revenue.
The BLM’s administration of auctions for new leases in 2019 and management of existing leases in 2020 catered to the oil and gas industry’s interests to the detriment of state and federal taxpayers. In 2019, the continued expansion of federal acreage offered in lease auctions led to abnormally low revenue collection. This year, leasing continued in the first quarter but was soon halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic through the late summer. Unfortunately for taxpayers, the BLM’s aggressive leasing plans have restarted all but guaranteeing insufficient returns for federal taxpayers.
Read the full report below, or download it here.