Oil and Gas Drilling on Public Lands

Much of the oil and gas produced in America comes from wildlands managed by the federal government. Some places are too wild to drill though—with important wildlife habitat, scenic beauty and other cultural and environmental benefits at risk.

The Wilderness Society is working to protect some of these wild places from potential damages from energy development, including oil and natural gas.

We work to ensure that conservation is being taken into account when development decisions are being made. This is done by guiding projects to more suitable areas and protecting places where drilling should not happen.

What The Wilderness Society is doing

The Wilderness Society is committed to making sure that oil and gas development is done safely and responsibly, while making sure our most pristine and treasured landscapes are protected.

We do this through our work with local communities, state and federal government agencies and those who value our lands for a multitude of uses including conservation, hunting and fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

A number of land management plan revisions, wildlife protection efforts and reform of how federal agencies do business gives us an opportunity to put conservation into the mix early on.

How drilling threatens wilderness

Oil and gas drilling leaves a large footprint on the land, Extracting these fossil fuels requires a mesh of roads, pipelines and well pads that break up large swaths of land and fragment wildlife habitat. Currently, oil and gas development is one of the largest threats to our wild landscapes. Learn more

Unequal ground

Unbalanced leasing policies on public lands put conservation and energy on unequal ground. These policies favor drilling above conservation and lead to millions of acres of public land being locked up.

Doing energy right

There are ways to protect important lands and still allow for some oil and gas drilling – but it has to be done in ways that avoid our most sensitive lands. Learn more about how The Wilderness Society is guiding energy development the right way.

Oil and gas FAQs

  • Wildflowers are enticing treasures for wilderness lovers each year. They come in countless varieties and yet can be so fleeting. They sprinkle wild landscapes with color and send subtle fragrances into the nearby air.

  • A new multi-state plan for the greater sage-grouse could include conservation measures to protect more than 50 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land that provides critical habitat for the species. Secretary Sally Jewell announced the plan on May 28 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

  • Infographic: The Land and Water Conservation Fund

    The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was signed into law in 1964, is a visionary idea that has helped protect millions of acres of land.