Oil and Gas

Much of the oil and gas produced in the United States comes from our public wildlands. Our work helps to protect our cherished wild places from damages caused by oil and gas drilling.

While there are some lands that are appropriate for oil and gas drilling, others are simply too wild and fragile for industrial development. Oil and gas development can lead to:

  • Habitat fragmentation and disturbances in migration, breeding and foraging habits of wildlife
  • Pollution of air and water through daily operations
  • Toxic oil spills
  • Noise pollution
  • Spoiled beauty of scenic areas 

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. 

Why oil and gas

Our government allows oil and gas companies to drill on the wildlands that belong to all Americans. When not done responsibly, or when allowed to take place in sensitive habitats, drilling can do lasting damages to these wild places.  We work to ensure that any development on our public land is safe and responsible. 

Oil subsidies

Profit-rich oil and gas companies currently receive more than $4 billion in subsidies. These subsidies were originally used to help the industry in its early days, but they are no longer needed. 

Federal legislation

Laws passed through Congress have established a framework for managing our public lands. These laws allow us to use our lands for various uses without harming the environment.

Administrative reforms

A presidential administration gets leeway on how to approach oil and gas development. While there are baseline laws to be followed, the president's administration can pass certain reforms to make oil and gas drilling safer for wildlands. 

Leasing on public lands

The oil and gas development process on public lands is in place to decrease environmental harm in surrounding areas. The water, air and habitats need to be kept clean and the oil and gas drilling needs to be kept to the smallest footprint possible. The federal government has important policies in place to ensure this occurs.

Oil and gas FAQs

This page has answers to some frequently asked questions about our work on oil and gas issues.

  • Michael Reinemer

    The Wilderness Society praises Congress for passing the Hill Creek Cultural Preservation and Energy Development Act (H.R. 356 / S. 27). The legislation provides for the exchange of roughly 20,000 acres of Utah’s mineral rights from ecologically and culturally sensitive lands in the Desolation Canyon region of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation for federal mineral rights in another part of the reservation.

  • Michael Reinemer

    The draft House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill released today is a clear improvement from previous years, though it still misses the mark on several key conservation, climate and public lands needs and is laden with numerous policy provisions or “riders” that have no place in the appropriations process.

  • Michael Reinemer

    On Wednesday, The Wilderness Society presented lifetime conservation achievement awards to Representatives George Miller, Jim Moran and Rush Holt, who collectively represent 80 years of support for conservation of some of America’s most stunning landscapes and protection of the country’s clean air and water.  All three members of Congress have announced their plans to retire at the end of the current session.

    Rep. George Miller (California – 11th District)