March 04, 2021

Cortez Masto Introduces Bills to Protect Ruby Mountains, Ruby Lake, and Other Public Lands From Oil and Gas Leasing

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today re-introduced legislation designed to protect public lands from speculative oil and gas leasing, including a bill to prohibit oil and gas development in Nevada’s beautiful and pristine Ruby Mountains.

“Nevadans depend on the public lands in our beautiful state for grazing, mining, recreation, and our outdoor and travel economy. This legislation would protect these landscapes from oil and gas companies’ speculative oil and gas leasing, including a full ban on any oil and gas leasing in the Ruby Mountains. These limits will help ensure that the federal government is using its resources responsibly and that these lands are available for appropriate use for generations to come. I’ll continue working in the Senate to safeguard Nevada’s landscapes for the benefit of the people and creatures that depend on them.”


Senator Cortez Masto has been a strong advocate for the health and well-being of Nevada’s public lands and the grazing, mining, and recreation industries they support.

The Ruby Mountains Protection Act, which is cosponsored by Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), would withdraw approximately 450,000 acres of National Forest System district land, comprising the Ruby Mountain Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, from any eligibility for oil and gas leasing under the Mineral Leasing Act. The bill will also expand protection to the 39,926 acre Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This legislation also prevents any future land or interest in land acquired by the United States for inclusion in the these areas from being used for oil and gas leasing. The Ruby Mountains Protection Act would not affect any recreational use of these pristine lands, including for hunting, hiking and fishing.

Senator Cortez Masto’s End Speculative Oil and Gas Leasing Act would require BLM to regularly assess oil and gas development potential on public lands, and it would prohibit BLM from offering leases on lands determined to have low or no development potential. This bill aims to:

  • Reduce speculative leasing;
  • Conserve vulnerable habitats and protect the environment;
  • Concentrate development efforts on areas with higher development potential;
  • Incentivize more appropriate land-use management;

This proposal would not apply to existing production sites or lands already under lease, only to future lease sales.