April 18, 2022

Rep. Mike Levin Responds to Interior Department Announcement on New Reforms to Oil and Gas Leasing Matching His Legislation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) responded today to the Department of the Interior’s announcement that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is significantly reforming its onshore oil and gas leasing program, implementing key provisions of his Restoring Community Input and Public Protections in Oil and Gas Leasing Act. For the first time in more than 100 years, BLM is raising royalty rates for new onshore leases from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent, matching the rate proposed under Rep. Levin’s bill. These lease sales at the new royalty rate, which is on par with rates charged on state and private lands, will ensure oil and gas companies have the opportunity to secure leases they claim to need in order to lower gas prices, while also ensuring the public finally receives a fair return for taxpayers on private profit off of public lands.

“The American people deserve to see a fair financial return on the profits that fossil fuel companies make from their use of our cherished public lands,” said Rep. Levin. “That’s why I introduced my legislation to raise royalty rates for onshore leases, and I’m glad the Biden Administration is implementing this commonsense reform. Along with additional reforms BLM is making to strengthen climate impact analyses and prioritize Tribal and other local input, these changes ensure the best interests of the public are put first when it comes to our public lands. Now the fossil fuel companies that secure these leases need to use this opportunity to lower gas prices for everyday Americans. These companies should know we will not allow them to rip off the public.”

In addition to raising royalty rates for onshore leases, Rep. Levin’s Restoring Community Input and Public Protections in Oil and Gas Leasing Act would:

  • Protect taxpayers and end giveaways for oil and gas companies by eliminating noncompetitive oil and gas leasing, requiring companies to pay a fee to nominate lands for leasing, and raising the rental fee and the minimum bid amount;
  • Increase transparency by requiring companies that nominate lands for oil and gas leasing and bid on leases disclose their identities, and protect landowners by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to notify them and the broader public about oil and gas lease sales;
  • Restore community input by eliminating actions taken by the Trump Administration that cut public participation in oil and gas leasing decisions and shortened public comment periods;
  • Safeguard environmental resources by enhancing reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act, and reinstate the use of master leasing plans to better protect lands where drilling interests conflict with other uses;
  • Require the Bureau of Land Management to write rules on the impacts to water resources of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, including baseline water testing and public disclosure, and full public disclosure of fracking chemicals.

Levin’s legislation is endorsed by The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nevada Wildlife Federation, Earthworks, Friends of the Earth, the Western Organization of Resource Councils, and others.