Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released the following statement after the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced they will prioritize oil and gas leasing for lands with higher potential for development, which Senator Cortez Masto has advocated for in her End Speculative Oil and Gas Leasing Act. She personally pushed the BLM to include this language in their recently publicized list of oil and gas leasing reforms in order to cut wasteful speculation and allow lands with low or no potential for development to be reprioritized for wildlife habitat preservation, outdoor recreation, grazing, and other uses. Senator Cortez Masto will continue to push for passage of her legislation to ensure these changes are codified into law and cannot be undone by a future administration.
“The administration should be prioritizing oil and gas leasing on lands that actually have potential for development without wasting time and money on unnecessary speculation,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I’m glad to see the administration include measures I’ve long fought for to protect our public lands, and I’ll continue to push to pass my legislation into law to ensure these reforms are not undone by future generations.”
Today, the BLM issued its draft rule to reform how federal lands are leased for oil and gas drilling. Some of these updates – including efforts to address speculation in the onshore oil and gas program by eliminating non-competitive leasing and to require more cleanup for abandoned oil and gas wells – were signed into law as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. Senator Cortez Masto’s provision to end speculative oil and gas leasing on lands with low or no potential for development, while included in today’s BLM rulemaking, is not yet codified into law.
Senator Cortez Masto has been a champion for Nevada’s great outdoor spaces and public lands. She’s introduced legislation to ban unproductive oil and gas development in Nevada’s beautiful and pristine Ruby Mountains. She passed critical legislation to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which protects public lands in Nevada and across the U.S. Cortez Masto has also introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to restore Lake Tahoe, and she delivered critical funding to protect Lake Tahoe in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.