Friday, September 24, 2021

Play

New Yorkers voice concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional and state voting districts; and providers ask the Supreme Court to act on Texas' new abortion law.

Play

The January 6th committee subpoenas former Trump officials; a Senate showdown looms over the debt ceiling; the CDC okays COVID boosters for seniors; and advocates testify about scams targeting the elderly.

Play

A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Tester Bill Would End No-Bid Oil, Gas Leasing on Public Lands

Play

Friday, July 17, 2020   

HELENA, Mont. - What happens when an oil or gas lease on Bureau of Land Management land goes up for auction and no one bids on it? It isn't taken off the market.

Instead, oil companies can buy the lease for the low price of a $1.50 per acre. That's why Sen. Jon Tester - D-Mont. - is introducing the Leasing Market Efficiency Act, which would eliminate the practice of non-competitive leasing.

Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands with the National Wildlife Federation, says 1.4 million acres or two-thirds of Montana public lands leased for oil and gas development are sitting idle.

"And yet those lands are being managed as if they are pumping oil and gas out of the ground," says Stone-Manning. "That just isn't right for taxpayers. That just isn't right for wildlife, certainly. And it's just not right for the future."

A third of Montana lands leased for oil and gas through BLM since 1987 were sold non-competitively, according to research from The Wilderness Society and Center for Western Priorities. The BLM has defended the practice, saying it creates jobs and helps push the country toward energy independence.

Stone-Manning says the Leasing Market Efficiency Act would leave it to the market to determine whether land is valuable for oil and gas development.

"If we put something up for sale," says Stone-Manning, "our precious natural resources that we all own as public-land owners - and it doesn't get any bids, we should just take it off the table and say, 'We're going to do something different.' "

A Congressional Budget Office report found only 3% of lands leased non-competitively between 1996 and 2003 were developed at the end of their ten-year terms.

Stone-Manning says the BLM is wasting resources when it could focus on things such as habitat improvement and public-lands infrastructure.

"If the Forest Service were managing grassland and there are no trees but it's managing it for a timber sale, that doesn't make any sense," says Stone-Manning. "And so of course they don't do that. Our technology is good enough now that we know where the oil and gas is."

Stone-Manning says the agency should abide by its multiple-use mandate and manage lands for grazing, recreation, hunting and wildlife, rather than favoring oil and gas development.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
The climate resilience package includes $1.5 billion for measures to better defend the state against wildfires. (Peter Buschmann/U.S. Forest Service)

Environment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he …


Social Issues

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Some New Yorkers are voicing concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional, State Senate and …

Social Issues

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan advocates for children and families are praising many of the investments in the 2022 state budget passed this week…


According to the World Health Organization, about one in six people age 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

DES MOINES, Iowa -- There is strong public support in Iowa to enact a state law that criminalizes elder abuse, a topic also being discussed by law …

Social Issues

CHICAGO -- Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Illinois traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for a pathway to citizenship for up to …

Arkansas farmers produce more than 9 billion pounds of rice each year. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and a new grant will help farmers explore ways to transition the industry to …

Social Issues

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota lawmakers in charge of redistricting have approved a preliminary draft of new legislative boundaries, but voters' …

Social Issues

SANTA FE, N.M. -- A New Mexico legislator is optimistic a bill will pass in the 2022 session to prohibit life sentences for juveniles convicted of …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021