How to get involved in The Bureau’s oil and gas leasing reforms

An oil rig in Weld County
Oil rig in Weld County, courtesy of CL Baker (CC BY-ND 2.0)

After years of pressure from leading national and western-based environmental and conservation groups, The Bureau of Land Management (The Bureau) released for public comment a long-overdue set of reforms on oil and gas leasing regulations! The comment deadline to show your support is September 22.

The rule would implement the Inflation Reduction Act’s oil and gas leasing system reforms, providing taxpayers with a fair return when public lands are leased to private companies. It would help steer oil and gas development away from important wildlife habitat or cultural sites (without you having to submit comments and protests for each and every oil and gas lease sale) and instead toward lands with existing infrastructure or high production potential. 

The proposed rule would also cut down on rampant speculative leasing in the onshore program so that those lands can instead be managed for other uses like conservation and recreation.

In addition, the rule would also reform the bonding rates that oil and gas companies must post to ensure public lands are cleaned up when companies abandon wells. An issue that, thanks to our partners’ research and Alison’s storymap, we know has cost taxpayers dearly.

It’s very important that we all comment and support these reforms! The comment deadline to show your support is September 22.

How to Comment

You can submit your comment electronically through

You can submit by mail, in person, or through a message delivery service to: U.S. Department of the Interior, Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, 1849 C St. NW, Room 5646, Washington DC 20240, Attention: 1004-AE80.

According to the site, you should make your comments as specific as possible, confine them to issues pertinent to the proposed rule, explain the reason for any changes you recommend, and include any supporting documentation. Where possible, your comments should reference the specific section or paragraph of the proposal you are addressing. Before including your address, telephone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment may be made publicly available at any time.

See sample talking points and other resources below.

While submitting your own individual comments is the most impactful way to take action, we recognize that not everyone has time to participate in that way. There is a conservation-oriented comment portal on the Coalition for Oil and Gas Reform webpage that you can sign instead.


The Bureau is holding informational meetings that you can attend in person or virtually. The meeting schedule is:

Virtual Meetings

In Person Meetings

  • August 22, 3:00 – 7:00 pm, MDT, Albuquerque, NM. At the Crown Plaza located at 1901 University Boulevard NE, Albuquerque, NM 87102. Parking is complimentary for attendees.
  • August 29, 3:00 – 7:00 pm, MDT, Denver, CO. At the Denver Marriott West located at 1717 Denver West Marriott Blvd, Golden, CO 80401. Parking is complimentary for attendees.
  • September 12, 3:00 – 7:00 pm, MDT, Salt Lake City, UT. At the Salt Lake City Public Library, 210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, in the Auditorium. Parking is available in the library garage. First half hour of parking is free and validation is available for an additional one and a half hours. Additional parking is $1.50 for 30 minutes.


Talking Points

Please feel free to use the talking points below to help formulate your comments but be sure to write them in your own words. Copy and paste comments don’t get counted as individual comments.

  • The common-sense reforms outlined by the administration cement provisions from recent and popular federal legislation. The rule reduces conflict between leasing and other uses that are essential to supporting Westerners’ way of life: open land, hunting, fishing, recreation, and conservation.
  • Many rules that govern oil and gas on public lands are decades-old and prioritize oil and gas leasing and development over important uses like hunting, fishing, biking, hiking, and other every-day activities.
  • Voters overwhelmingly support common-sense reforms to oil and gas leasing on public lands that would limit harmful impacts to land, wildlife, community health, and Western economies. 93% of Western voters believe that oil and gas companies should pay to clean up their own messes – a burden that taxpayers have shouldered for too long. 71% of Western voters believe that drilling should only occur on land that has the highest likelihood of producing oil and gas.
  • The common-sense solutions included in the proposed rule both codify and build on the crucial updates that Congress secured for the onshore leasing system in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), in order to ensure durable reform, to avoid discrepancies between codified regulations and the law, and to address other issues that have long plagued the program and that the Interior Secretary has existing authority to act upon.
  • Reclamation Bonding:
    • Action being taken: The Department of the Interior proposed a set of solutions to hold oil and gas companies responsible for cleaning up after themselves, to ensure taxpayers are not left with another hefty bill in the future, and to protect our public lands, wildlife, and health from the threat of orphaned wells. Notably, the Interior Department is proposing to raise minimum federal bonding rates to more closely reflect the true costs of plugging and reclaiming federal well sites. The rule also proposes to eliminate the use of nationwide bonds, which currently allow for oil and gas companies to drill enormous numbers of wells across the country that are all covered by a single, inadequate bond.
    • Supporting point: The Interior Department is currently expending $250 million in taxpayer funds to clean up orphaned wells on federal public lands. Bonding updates in the rule are necessary, as local communities are harmed when industry leaves a mess behind. Without reform to the federal bonding program, even more taxpayer funding will just continue to be needed in the future.  
    • Supporting point: Updating the decades-old reclamation bonding program, which includes rates the Government Accountability Office deemed “insufficient,” to ensure companies who want to drill on our lands are held responsible for covering the costs of cleanup – not taxpayers – really is just common sense.
  • No/Low Potential Lands Leasing
    • Action being taken: For federal onshore oil and gas lease sales held over the past two years, the Department of the Interior has required that all nominated lease parcels be screened against a set of evaluation criteria, including oil and gas development potential, in order to reduce conflicts between federal oil and gas leases and other public lands uses and resources. The Department of the Interior now proposes to ensure, by rule, the application and use of these criteria as a part of the leasing process to guide the selection of lands that may be offered for lease.
    • Supporting point: For decades, the federal onshore oil and gas leasing system has encouraged speculative leasing instead of prioritizing other important economic drivers on public lands, like outdoor recreation and protecting local communities, wildlife, drinking water, and clean energy development. As a result, oil and gas companies abuse the federal onshore leasing system – and harm western communities and waste taxpayer dollars in the process – by pursuing speculative leasing on public lands that are not likely to produce oil and gas and are important for supporting other valuable uses and resources. 
    • Additional Talking Point for raising up the opportunity for stronger action in the final rule: As a part of its rulemaking, DOI should ensure that lands with little or no drilling potential are not able to be offered for oil and gas leasing at the expense of other valuable uses like wildlife habitat conservation and outdoor recreation, by codifying in regulation that lands found to be in conflict with any of the established screening criteria are unavailable for leasing.
  • Fiscal Rates/Fees
    • Action being taken: Consistent with the increases to the royalty rate, rental rates, and minimum bid and the requirement of a new nomination fee for federal onshore oil and gas leases that were all secured into law as a part of the IRA, the Department of the Interior proposes to update its regulations to reflect the new statutory fiscal rates and terms. The Department of the Interior also proposes that, after the 10-year period following the IRA’s enactment, the rental rates and minimum lease bid will be indexed for inflation.
    • Supporting point: Before the IRA was passed, the fiscal terms for public lands leasing and drilling were, in some cases, over 100 years old. They had never been updated for inflation or to more closely align with market rates, allowing oil CEOs to lease public lands for pennies on the dollar and unfairly profit at the expense of taxpayers, as a result. Under the century-old royalty rate, taxpayers lost out on billions of dollars in additional revenue while oil and gas CEOs raked in record profits.
    • Supporting point: DOI’s proposed rule requires an inflation-adjusted minimum lease bid and inflation-adjusted rental rates beginning in August 2032. Reforms will ensure that taxpayers continue to receive their fair share from the oil and gas industry’s lease of public lands that belong to all of us and require oil CEOs continue to pay their fair share. 
    • Additional Talking Point for raising up the opportunity for stronger action in the final rule: As a part of its rulemaking, DOI should ensure that reviews and necessary updates to the onshore royalty rate, rental rates, and minimum bid are required at regular intervals to ensure that these rates and fees continually align with larger economic trends so that taxpayers continue to receive their fair share from the oil and gas industry’s lease and use of publicly-owned resources, and ensure oil CEOs continue to pay their fair share.
  • Noncompetitive Leasing
    • Action being taken: Following the Inflation Reduction Act’s elimination of noncompetitive leasing, the Interior Department’s proposed rule removes all references to/allowances for noncompetitive leasing from the Code of Federal Regulations. All federal lands may now be leased for oil and gas only if purchased at competitive auction for no less than the minimum bonus bid.
    • Supporting point: At its core, noncompetitive leasing was previously a wasteful practice that for decades had forced BLM to expend limited public agency time and resources administering leases that hardly ever generate any return for taxpayers. These unproductive leases tied up public lands for purely speculative purposes when instead they could be better managed for other uses such as conservation or recreation.
    • Supporting point: Ensuring that federal oil and gas leases can be purchased only through the competitive bidding process will save the public money and ensure that the Bureau of Land Management is not forced to spend time administering leases over-the-counter that will never be developed or generate any returns for taxpayers. 

Other Resources

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