DENVER — The National Wildlife Federation and its Western affiliates praised the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management for deferring a majority of the parcels in its first onshore oil and gas lease sale of the Biden Administration and for including long-overdue reforms in the leases that were offered, but conservation groups said the administration must make those reforms permanent. The reforms include not leasing lands that conflict with important wildlife habitat, not leasing on lands with little potential for oil and gas development, and increasing the royalty rates that oil and gas companies pay.
In a letter
to Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning, the conservation groups said they “applaud the BLM’s proposal to raise the royalty rate on these leases to 18.75 percent — a needed increase to reflect modern leasing practices and ensure a fair return to taxpayers. This change will make the federal government’s royalty rate for these parcels consistent with those imposed by states and private landowners and will generate additional revenue for the federal government and the states in which the development takes place.”
The groups also said they “appreciate the agency’s intent to defer parcels with low or no oil and gas development potential while prioritizing parcels that are adjacent to or near existing oil and gas activity. Leaving low-potential lands unleased will allow the agency to manage them for other purposes, including wildlife protection, habitat conservation and restoration, and recreation.” The letter warned that these reforms must be codified through the administrative rulemaking process to provide a more balanced approach to federal land management.
In an earlier letter
, the National Wildlife Federation, the Colorado Wildlife Federation and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership applauded leasing deferrals in Colorado and called for additional protections for big game habitat and corridors.
Earlier this month, the National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and Rocky Mountain Wild released a story map
showing how leasing on low potential lands threatens fish and wildlife.
The letter to the Bureau of Land Management was signed by the National Wildlife Federation, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Colorado Wildlife Federation, Idaho Wildlife Federation, Montana Wildlife Federation, Nevada Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Utah Wildlife Federation and Wyoming Wildlife Federation.