Senate Committee Presses for Clarity
With a review of the federal oil and gas program underway, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it will not hold lease sales in the second quarter of 2021.
President Biden issued an Executive Order his first day in office halting new oil and natural gas leases on public lands pending completion of a comprehensive review. Despite multiple requests from industry, senators and governors, BLM has not said how long the review will take or acknowledged economic and environmental ramifications.
The agency’s review is assessing, in part, if the program provides taxpayers a fair return for development of federal lands.
The Department of the Interior held a public forum in March seeking feedback on the federal oil and gas program. However, no state or local leaders were permitted to speak. In response, the Council submitted a letter to Interior encouraging Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to hear from these leaders in areas directly affected by the leasing moratorium, specifically the New Mexico delegation.
During a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, an official from BLM said the Bureau has not yet decided if it will hold lease sales in the third quarter of this year. Ranking member Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) asked Gov. Mark Gordon (R-WY) to discuss the impact of oil and gas jobs on community and families across the west, as well as the lease ban’s effect.
Council SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley previously analyzed the impact of the federal lease moratorium and noted that energy job losses from this action across the country could be severe. Analysts say drilling on federal lands supports 145,000 jobs in New Mexico, 609,000 in Pennsylvania and 700,000 in Ohio.
Additionally, the drilling program generated $11.7 billion in tax revenue for federal, state, local and tribal governments last year, according to the Interior Department’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who chairs the committee, said energy produced on federal lands raised an average of $3.25 billion annually in revenue for host states and the federal government over the last five years through royalties, rents, bonuses and other fees.
To learn more about the Council’s advocacy efforts, or to become involved in the Government Affairs Committee, contact SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley.
Maria Suarez, Director Government Affairs, writes about industry-specific policies for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, Council activities and more.