Earthjustice Applauds Overdue Reforms to Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Biden administration announces long awaited reforms that will hold oil industry accountable


Jackson Chiappinelli, Earthjustice, (585) 402-2005,

Today, the Biden administration unveiled long-awaited reforms that will hold the fossil fuel industry to more reasonable standards when operators seek to lease and develop oil and gas on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management’s new Oil and Gas Rule includes new provisions that will save taxpayers money, help ensure public lands are used for their highest value, and better protect communities and the environment.

Earthjustice applauded the announcement and issued the following statement:

“This new rule should be regarded as a long overdue win for communities and the environment. For decades, taxpayers have been left to foot the bill to clean up toxic messes left behind by oil companies across the West, while some of the same companies made record profits,” said Earthjustice attorney Mike Freeman. “BLM also has tolerated rampant speculation on leases that industry only purchased to pad its books and attract investors, while preventing those lands from being protected for other uses. On top of this, oil and gas drilling on public lands accelerates the climate crisis and results in oil spills and threats to drinking water. The Biden administration’s Oil and Gas Rule is an important step toward correcting these long-standing problems and holding oil and gas companies accountable. We look forward to seeing BLM’s next steps toward tackling the climate impacts of federal oil and gas drilling.”


Public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management are essential to fishing and hunting, wildlife and land conservation, and outdoor recreation economies. The final version of BLM’s Oil and Gas Rule implements reforms included in the Inflation Reduction Act such as increased royalty rates, a realignment of rents and minimum bids to account for decades of inflation, a prohibition on non-competitive leasing, and a new fee to ensure oil and gas operators carefully consider the lands they nominate for lease. The new rule increases minimum bonding rates for the first time since 1960, to require oil and gas companies take more responsibility for covering the costs of well clean-up, contamination, and remediation. It will also help focus leasing decisions away from areas with significant cultural and wildlife value.

Drilling on public lands in Vernal, Utah that is managed by the Bureau of Land Management
Vast acreages of public lands used for drilling in Vernal, Utah. (WildEarth Guardians / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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.