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

  • Neil Shader

    New legislation introduced today in the House and the Senate would undermine state and federal planning efforts, nearly complete, to conserve the greater sage grouse and perpetuate uncertainty faced by all westerners, according to The Wilderness Society. The following statement can be attributed to Chase Huntley, senior government relations director for The Wilderness Society.

  • Neil Shader

    Authorization for LWCF runs out on September 30 2015.

    Today, Earth Day, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on “reauthorization and potential reforms” to LWCF. Funded primarily by offshore oil royalties—not taxpayer dollars—the program has had strong bipartisan support since its enactment in 1964. The Wilderness Society strongly supports several bills to reauthorize LWCF including S. 890, S. 338 and H.R. 1814, now pending in Congress.

  • Neil Shader

    Proactive, cooperative conservation measures could be a model for protections across the West

    The following statement can be attributed to Nada Culver, senior director of agency policy and planning for The Wilderness Society, regarding the Department of Interior’s decision to not add the bi-state greater sage grouse population to the Endangered Species List.