PRESS RELEASE: New Federal Rules for Oil and Gas Leasing on Federal Lands

Bureau of Land Management revisits oil and gas leasing system for first time in decades


DENVER, CO – The Bureau of Land Management (The Bureau) today released for public comment a set of long-overdue reforms that would affect how fossil fuels are leased and produced on national public lands. 

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. The rule would also help steer oil and gas development away from important wildlife habitat or cultural sites 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. 

Coloradans show strong support for the kinds of reforms in the proposed rules. According to the 2023 State of the Rockies Poll:

  • Ninety-two percent of Colorado voters support requiring oil and gas companies, rather than taxpayers, to pay for all of the clean-up and land restoration costs after drilling is finished. 
  • Three-quarters of Colorado voters say the impact of oil and gas drilling on our land, air, and water is a problem.
  • Seventy-one percent of voters support only allowing oil and gas companies the right to drill in areas where there is high likelihood to actually produce oil and gas. In enacting its reforms, the Department of the Interior is following public opinion and common sense.

“Public lands are a central part of protecting and restoring the one-of-a-kind wildlife and wild lands in the Southern Rocky Mountain region,” said Alison Gallensky, Conservation Geographer at Rocky Mountain Wild. “The Department of the Interior’s long overdue action to reform the antiquated oil and gas leasing program will support Western communities in our efforts to safeguard wildlife and biodiversity from irresponsible industry development. We are counting on the Biden administration to finalize this needed rulemaking to curb speculative oil and gas leasing and update federal bonding rates to safeguard our treasured landscapes for future generations.” 

The publication of the rule in the Federal Register started a 60-day public comment period that runs through September 20, 2023. Comments can be submitted through


Media Contact:

Alison Gallensky, Rocky Mountain Wild,, 303-546-0214 x 9

Additional Background:

Rocky Mountain Wild works to protect, connect, and restore wildlife and wild lands in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. One of our key programs is the Oil and Gas Watch where we work with a coalition of organizations across the Rocky Mountain West that monitors oil and gas development across the region. Oil and gas development can compromise our public lands and waters, change and fragment wildlife habitats, threaten irreplaceable cultural resources and sacred sites, and risk our health and outdoor legacy. Rocky Mountain Wild works to stop development that would harm wildlife and wild lands.

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