The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced its decision to exclude 87,000 acres of public lands from an upcoming lease sale, agreeing with arguments raised by policymakers and environmental advocates, including Policy Integrity, that these public lands are too valuable for other uses to be designated for fossil fuel extraction.
The leases would have allowed oil and gas drilling in Utah’s Moab region, likely harming recreational opportunities, wildlife protection, and cultural and tribal resources. In its final assessment that excluded the Moab region parcels, BLM responded to several of our arguments that opposed the lease sale on legal and economic grounds.
Our comments to BLM about the potential lease sale detailed how the agency must consider competing, valuable public land uses and consider far more limited leasing scenarios, including not leasing at all. Our comments also highlighted the considerable option value of delaying the leasing decision, especially when considering historically low oil and gas prices and the low development potential of the Moab parcels. We frequently submit public comments noting the agency’s failure to fully consider the impacts of its lease sales. We also published a report on fossil fuel leasing in public lands and the critical importance of accounting for option value in BLM’s land use planning processes.