Grijalva Criticizes the Return of “Sight-Unseen” Leasing Policies

Washington, D.C. – The Department of the Interior (DOI) released a report today that stated it will repeal the 2010 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) onshore oil and gas leasing reforms and stop developing Master Leasing Plans. Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva condemned the release of the Final Report: Review of the Department of the Interior Actions that Potentially Burden Domestic Energy, and points out that Leasing reforms and Master Leasing Plans are necessary to guarantee a safe land management process:

“Apparently eight years is exactly how long it takes to forget just how dysfunctional the leasing system was under the Bush administration. The BLM leasing reforms didn’t come out of thin air – they were a reaction to a lease-it-all-sight-unseen policy that cut the public and even other land managers out of the process, resulting in illegal leases being issued and a firestorm of well-deserved criticism. This entire energy burdens report just confirms that everything in the Department must conform to the single-minded goal of letting the polluting oil and gas industry do whatever it wants, whenever it wants.”

The 2010 BLM Leasing Reforms were instituted in reaction to the problems highlighted by the December 2008 Utah oil and gas lease sale, in which the BLM failed to notify the National Park Service (NPS) of parcels close to national parks, and then refused to defer parcels to which the NPS objected. The 2010 Reforms created a more thorough parcel review process to ensure that concerns were addressed before lease sales, including through the formation of interdisciplinary teams to conduct on-the-ground site visits of proposed lease sites to identify potential resource conflicts. The DOI’s report issued this week indicates it will now measure success not by minimizing conflicts or reducing impacts, but simply by how quickly it can move public land from industry nomination to lease sale.

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