WASHINGTON, D.C. — Legislation that ties releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increased leasing of public lands for oil and gas drilling would unnecessarily exploit our public lands without creating a comprehensive solution to high gas prices, energy security, or other important issues.
The proposed legislation requires the federal government to increase leasing on public lands before the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is used. By forcing indiscriminate additional leases of public lands and waters, the bill would eliminate the discretion of federal agencies to determine the best places to lease, which balances wildlife, water, recreational, and other important considerations with leasing.
“Policy discussions around the appropriate use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are valuable when done in good faith, but tying mass leasing of public lands to Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases does not productively advance that discussion,” said David Willms, associate vice president of public lands for the National Wildlife Federation. “This legislation would unnecessarily exploit public lands and reduce oversight that balances leasing with wildlife, ecological, and human needs without addressing the factors that should inform releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.”
The intent of the bill is to have a mechanism to replenish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the event of a drawdown. However, the bill cannot guarantee that it will accomplish this goal. Instead, this bill could increase total leased acreage on shore and off shore from roughly 38 million acres to over 314 million acres, putting public lands and wildlife at risk with little to no benefit to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
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