Trump’s War on Public Land Has Made Almost No Difference

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The Trump regime has done nearly everything it can to open up federal land for oil and gas drilling, going so far as to shrink the size of several national monuments, but the fossil fuel industry isn't biting.

New numbers from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) show that oil and gas leases on public land reached a 10-year-low in 2017 and virtually no one bid on new lands opened up by the Trump regime.

[By] two measures there was more oil industry activity on federal lands during the Obama years than Trump's first year. In 2017 the number of oil and gas leases fell to a 10-year low of 38,556. The number of acres leased also declined to a decade-low of 25,742,991. [...]

One of the tables compares the number of acres BLM offered for lease to the number that received bids. It shows the Trump administration offered 11,859,396 acres for lease — more than at any time in the last nine years. But bids were received on only 6.7 percent of them — the lowest share by far over that period.

This information was mysteriously removed from the bureau's website but not before NPR was able to obtain it for their story.

One industry lobbyist who spoke to NPR said the reason so few acres were leased in 2017 is because a majority of the land was offered in Alaska and Nevada where they have no interest in drilling.

This may or may not be something they're heavily considering, but I imagine the first company to start drilling in lands that were previously protected should expect intense protest.

  • Badgerite

    Reality serves as a check and balance even if the institutions charged with that responsibility will not.

  • muselet

    The smarter people at fossil-fuel companies realize the future is renewable, which also feeds into the reluctance to commit resources to exploration and drilling in areas with uncertain payoffs.


    • The stone age didn’t end because they ran out of rocks, after all.

  • I imagine they also know that if Democrats retake Congress, they could find themselves on the ass end of a law forbidding drilling in those areas. The risk may be too great.

  • ninjaf

    I am sure the threat of protest and litigation don’t make it worthwhile just yet. It depends on how long the price of oil continues to rise. As it gets pricier, that headache may be more worthwhile.