The Wilderness Society statement on Department of Interior announcement on idle drilling leases

May 14, 2012

Statement from David Moulton, Senior Director of Legislative Affairs for The Wilderness Society, on the Department of Interior report on idle oil and gas leases on federal lands.

“The Department of Interior highlights what the oil and gas industry fails to mention – they’re sitting on millions of unused acres.  More than 20 million acres of leased federal land are idle, without any production or even exploratory drilling happening.

“In addition to their idle acres, there are also more than 7,000 approved federal drilling permits that the oil and gas industry isn’t using.  This is a major hole in the industry’s talking points, because while they can try to explain away the unused acres, drilling permits are the last step before drilling. Once they have a drilling permit, they are “good to go” – without anything restricting them.  If they aren’t using those drilling permits, it’s because they don’t need them.

“The oil and gas industry claims that it is red tape and regulations that holding them up, but it’s clear that if anyone is standing in the way of oil and gas development, it is the industry itself.”

Neil Shader