Oil and Gas Toolbox for Activists

Every year millions of acres of our public lands are offered up to oil and gas companies for exploration and development. In 2017 an area twice the size of the State of Vermont was put on the auction block – giving big corporations the opportunity to lock up these lands for their private gains, and denying us the ability to protect them for wildlife habitat, recreation, and other non-consumptive uses. You can help make sure that our federal agencies manage these areas in ways that benefit all of us. Here is your toolbox for commenting on and engaging in this process.

How the Process Works

Four times a year the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offers up parcels of public land to be leased for oil and gas exploration and development. It is a complex process with multiple steps. The public has opportunities to engage at different steps along the way. Below are a fact sheet and infographic that explain that process, as well as a glossary of terms to help you understand the lingo.

Protecting Public Lands from Oil & Gas Development Fact Sheet (PDF)
Protección de Tierras de Propiedad Pública del Desarrollo en Petróleo y Gas Documento Informativo (PDF)
Glossary of terms (PDF) Glosario de Términos (PDF)
What is the Process for Oil & Gas Leasing Infographic (PDF)

Writing Comments and Protests

Your written comments and protests to the BLM can make a difference and get parcels pulled from a lease sale, but you have to do it right.  Check out our Writing Comments that Stick checklist and our How to Navigate Oil and Gas Resources and Make a Comment tutorial for tips and processes. Want a deeper dive? Check out the video about writing Oil and Gas Lease Sale Comments we produced in conjunction with Wild Montana.

Writing Comments That Stick (PDF)
Cómo Escribir Comentarios Que Dan En El Blanco (PDF)
Guide to Writing Comments About the Impacts on Wildlife and Plant Species (beta draft) (Google Docs)

Virtual Event Recording: Oil and Gas Lease Sale Comment Writing Workshop

Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources that may help you with your comments and other research.

  • Geospatial Data for currently authorized Federal Oil and Gas Lease Parcels
    • Federal Oil and Gas Leasing geospatial data is viewable on the Bureau of Land Management’s Mineral & Land Records System (MLRS) Research Map. Rocky Mountain Wild created a GIS snapshot of this data on 6/15/2023 and it is available as a zipped shapefile. Extracts for states in the Rocky Mountain Region are available in this Google Drive Folder.
    • Currently authorized leases spatial data was provided by Bureau of Land Management as of 5/10/2023. Data was modified by Rocky Mountain Wild by removing data with the poorest quality (including all parcels in Texas), extracting parcels for specific states, changing the projection, adding data from the BLM Land & Mineral System Reports as of 6/14/2023, and removing leases no longer authorized as of 6/14/2023.
    • In Google Earth kmz data in the Google Drive Folder, Red = held by production. Purple = not held by production.
    • Email Alison if you have any questions.
  • Up-to-date information on proposed oil and gas leases, including the dates and interactive maps can be found on our Upcoming Oil and Gas Lease Sales pages for ColoradoMontanaNew MexicoUtah and Wyoming.
  • The Wilderness Society Study: “Open For Business”