Washington, D.C. — This morning, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report once again proving what we already know: the nation’s current oil and gas public lands leasing program is an outdated, wasteful giveaway to the oil and gas industry that comes at the expense of taxpayers and public lands.
“Audit after audit, report after report has shown that under the current leasing program, American taxpayers and our public lands lose out while rich oil and gas companies cash in,” said Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig. “The program can’t continue in its current state. Senators must follow the lead of their House colleagues and ensure bold reforms to the nation’s public lands leasing program are included in the Build Back Better Act.”
Accountable.US recently called out efforts by Big Oil to falsely assert that the Biden administration’s broadly popular conservation and climate action policies are “preventing us from continuing to develop on federal lands.” In reality, the industry has made profits hand over fist this year — all while sitting on enough permits for drilling on federal lands to last them beyond the Biden administration.
- The GAO found that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) guidance and fees have not “kept pace with changing conditions,” rendering inefficiencies in the program.
- The GAO found that noncompetitive leasing is inefficient and results in less revenue, with the practice of dumping unsold leases for rock-bottom prices resulting in as much as ten times less revenue than normal leasing.
- This isn’t the first time GAO has slammed the BLM’s costly leasing program — for years the independent watchdog has recommended reforms to the program that would give a fairer return on leasing to the government and to taxpayers.
- In 2019, the GAO found that Interior’s leasing system has a high risk of fraud, waste, and abuse.
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