U. S. Bureau of Land Management Needs Stronger Rules to Limit Oil & Gas Exploration

by Diana Gooding on September 17, 2023

From the Western Environmental Law Center, January 2023

The BLM Now Proposes to Update the Leasing Rules for Fossil Energy Projects on Federal Land

From the Letter of Mike Scott, National Oil and Gas Campaign Manager, Sierra Club, September 16, 2023

From 9 to 5, I’m the Sierra Club’s Oil and Gas Campaign Manager. When I’m not working, you can find me hunting, fishing, rafting, or hiking in Eastern Montana where I live. I love this place, and one of the reasons I live here is so that I can enjoy the outdoors.

Oil and gas production has long been a part of this region, which brings many problems. Radioactive waste from drill rigs, brine water (often saltier than the ocean), and even crude oil ends up in our rivers and on our land. Pumpjacks (those big pieces of equipment that look like a nodding donkey or horse head) sit idle and rusting on the landscape. I live between three large oil refineries, and my farm actually was covered in oil from the 2011 Silvertip pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River. Oil and gas is everywhere in my community and in this part of the country.

That is why we need stronger rules that limit oil and gas exploration!

When oil and gas companies are allowed to operate however they see fit, it leads to pollution and accidents that impact the land, wildlife, and people. For example, unsealed, abandoned wells can leak oil and other pollutants into the air and water. This means drinking water can become contaminated, and the fish we eat are riddled with toxins. It also means a visit to public lands near oil and gas production could expose us to pollutants in the air that can make us sick.

Right now, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is updating its oil and gas leasing rules. This is a big deal because the current rules are broken and outdated, leading to the terrible impacts I’ve seen in Montana and across the West. The proposed rules don’t fix everything, but they do start to make reforms that will hold oil and gas companies accountable for their operations. This proposal will also end some of the built-in subsidies that oil and gas companies hoard when they lease public lands. A more transparent process will mean that our perspectives are finally taken into account before dirty fossil fuel projects are dumped into our backyards.

Join me in telling the BLM to strengthen these rules and finalize them as soon as possible!

>> Thanks for all you do, Mike Scott, National Oil and Gas Campaign Manager, Sierra Club


SUMMARY APPROACH ~ For decades, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has sold off public lands to oil and gas companies for pennies on the dollar. This broken system has locked up vast amounts of land from any use other than extraction and left thousands of dangerous and polluting abandoned wells with our communities footing the bill to clean them up.

The BLM just proposed an update to leasing rules that would finally hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the damage they cause, end subsidies for oil and gas producers, and add competition to the leasing process. Tell the BLM to strengthen these rules and finalize them as soon as possible!

Take Action Now!

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