White House Report Lays Out Obvious, Overdue Reforms for Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Report shows how little return taxpayers get for leasing public lands and waters to oil and gas companies, but fails to address climate


Maggie Caldwell, mcaldwell@earthjustice.org, (347) 527-6397

On Friday, the Biden administration issued its long-awaited report on the federal oil and gas leasing program highlighting the program’s dire need for reforms to ensure fairer returns to taxpayers, require companies to meet their reclamation obligations, and guarantee public participation and tribal consultation in the leasing process. However, the report notably leaves out the climate impacts of drilling public lands and waters in what was supposed to be a “comprehensive” assessment.

The following is a statement from Sara Cawley, Earthjustice Legislative Representative:

“The report lays out everything we already know and have been saying for years. The federal oil and gas program is in dire need of reforms to ensure fairer returns to taxpayers and to ensure that industry cleans up its mess. The report clearly demonstrates the urgency for Congress to act now and address the issues outlined in the report, and for the Senate to pass the oil and gas reforms recommended by Interior that are contained in the House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act.

“But in other ways, this report falls far short of the promised ‘comprehensive review’, notably leaving out the climate consequences of continuing to lease public lands and waters to the oil and gas industry. In addition to ignoring the huge climate impacts from oil and gas production, this report failed to address other environmental impacts of oil and gas activities on communities and the critical regulatory and safety reforms needed to limit those impacts.

“The American people have been getting a raw deal while industry enjoys billions in defacto subsidies, locks off public lands shared by all Americans for pennies on the dollar, and walks away from polluted sites with little responsibility while communities and the environment suffer. We expected much more, especially given the Biden administration’s deeply disappointing and legally avoidable Gulf lease sale. Interior must take decisive action to reduce climate-heating emissions from federal energy extraction and end new leasing on public lands and waters.”

Additional Resources

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.