Oil and Gas Watch

Oil and Gas Development on Federal Lands

The federal government owns rights to about 700 million acres of onshore mineral resources, including oil and natural gas in the United States. That is about 30% of the lands in the United States. As of the end of September 2020, over 26.6 million acres of these lands were leased to corporations and individuals for oil and gas development. Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Montana, and Nevada have the largest amount of land leased in the Continental United States*.

Rocky Mountain Wild works with a coalition of organizations across the Rocky Mountain West that monitors oil and gas leasing in those states. Oil and gas development compromises our public lands and waters, changes and fragments wildlife habitats, threatens irreplaceable cultural resources and sacred sites, and risks our health and outdoor legacy. We work to stop leasing that would harm wildlife and wild lands. We have been directly involved in the deferral of over 2 million acres of public land from oil and gas development.

The interactive map below shows currently authorized federal oil and natural gas leases.

View larger interactive map

2021 Reforms

On January 27, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. Among the ambitious and far-reaching provisions of this order, is a provision to pause federal oil and gas leasing while the federal land management agencies complete “a comprehensive review and reconsideration of Federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practices.” Rocky Mountain Wild is carefully following this process. We will let our supporters know about opportunities to influence this review and ensure the reforms protect wildlife and wild lands from the harms of oil and gas leasing development.

Resources

*Federal oil and gas acres leased by state as of 10/1/2020: Wyoming almost 8.9 million, New Mexico over 4.2 million, Utah almost 2.9 million, Colorado almost 2.4 million, Montana 1.6 million, and Nevada over 870,000. Alaska has over 2.6 million acres leased putting it between Utah and Colorado for acres leased. For more information, see BLM’s Oil and Gas Statistics webpage.

**Existing leases data from BLM National Oil and Gas Leases Polygons updated 12/9/2020 and acquired from BLM Navigator on 12/21/2020. Data was modified by Rocky Mountain Wild by extracting one state, changing the projection, adding expiration date data from the BLM Land & Mineral System Reports (LR2000), and removing leases no longer authorized as of 12/21/2020. Additional disclaimers are in the metadata associated with BLM’s data.

***Existing leases data from BLM Utah Oil and Gas Leases Polygons updated 1/4/2021 and acquired from BLM Navigator on 1/19/2021. Data was modified by Rocky Mountain Wild by querying BLM Land & Mineral System Reports (LR2000) for leases currently authorized and leases no longer authorized as of 1/19/2021.