Secretary Salazar unveils oil and gas reforms

Environment Colorado

Secretary Salazar today unveiled anticipated reforms for leasing public lands to oil and gas drilling. These important reforms, which come a week after Salazar announced similar reforms for offshore drilling leases in the wake of the BP Gulf Oil Disaster, are meant to provide added protections against the environmental and economic risks of oil and gas development on America’s vast and valuable public lands.

Conservationists, sportsmen, ranchers, community leaders, and others have waited eagerly for this announcement since the reforms were first proposed earlier this year. 

Indeed, last week a group of five dozen former land managers, biologists and regulators sent a letter to Secretary Salazar urging him to finalize these important rules.

For years, the leasing process allowed oil and gas companies to drill wherever and however they wanted and, as a result, led to hundreds of accidents and spills in the West that have contaminated our water and destroyed lands that can never be replaced. Secretary Salazar has sought to bring law and order to the leasing process because some places are just too sensitive to drill. The Instructional Memoranda announced today represent a move toward a common-sense energy policy that will restore balance to our public lands and protect our outdoors heritage. 

Notably, the Instruction Memoranda issued today: Eliminate shortcuts that allowed oil and gas companies to run roughshod over our land by reining in the abuses of Categorical Exclusions, Ensure that our public lands are managed in the interests of the American taxpayer– not short-term profits for oil and gas companies, Allow local communities to provide input about where and how our public lands should be drilled.

Quotes on the Salazar oil and gas leasing reforms:

  • Matt Garrington, advocate with Environment Colorado, part of the Environment America federation of state-based environmental groups.”The Gulf disaster shows what happens if drilling companies take shortcuts. In the Rocky Mountains, oil and gas companies have run roughshod over our public lands, polluting our water and scarring our land. Secretary Salazar has put reason and caution back into public lands decisions. Reckless drilling on our lands and waters must stop, and some landscapes are too important to gamble away to drilling companies.”
  • Mike Daulton, Director of Conservation Policy for the National Audubon Society.”Audubon is hopeful that the Department of the Interior’s new guidelines will signal the dawn of a new era of balanced oil and gas leasing decisions in the intermountain west.  We encourage the Department to respect and protect vital natural areas and wildlife habitat, including the important core sage-grouse areas Audubon has identified.”
  • William H. Meadows, President of The Wilderness Society.”For too long, oil and gas development has prevailed over the BLM’s responsibility to protect environmental and cultural values on our shared national lands. By taking responsibility for strategic development of our public lands, the BLM is taking on its rightful role as steward of these lands for all Americans, not just for the oil and gas industry.”


Agency-letter-5-13.pdf Agency-letter-5-13.pdf