How Noncompetitive Leasing Threatens Our Public Lands

  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Mar 30, 2022
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Noncompetitive leasing is an antiquated practice that encourages speculators to lease our nation’s public lands for as little as $1.50 an acre in places where there is virtually no likelihood for oil and gas development. That these leases are truly speculative in nature is backed up by a 2020 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which showed that 99% of noncompetitive leases issued between 2003 and 2009 never entered oil and gas production. Unfortunately, this wastes taxpayer dollars by incurring unnecessary administrative costs and it ties up land that could generate revenue through expanded outdoor recreation opportunities. It also prevents land managers from adequately managing wildlife habitat in these areas.

This report documents just how widespread the problem is in five Western states: Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. It also shows how these leases are sold over-the-counter on lands that have very little likelihood for energy development, but have tremendous potential for wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation.

How Noncompetitive Leasing Threatens Our Public Lands


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