Opinion: The Bureau of Land Management should finalize proposed reforms to the federal oil and gas leasing system.

By Amanda Guernsey-Cipili

April 12, 2024

Nevada’s public lands are home to vast desert ecosystems, snow-capped mountains, and rich wildlife habitat. Conserving these landscapes is critical for our state’s wildlife, outdoor recreation opportunities, and communities.

However, public lands in our state are often put in harm’s way under the current federal oil and gas leasing system. Many landscapes in Nevada have little to no drilling potential, yet they are unnecessarily leased to oil and gas companies. Opening land for leasing where there is nothing to drill undermines conservation efforts across the state and threatens the well-being of essential wildlife habitats. For instance, 50,000 acres of Nevada’s treasured Ruby Mountains were nominated for leasing in 2018 despite being home to critical big-game migration corridors, in addition to world-class skiing and popular hunting, fishing, and camping sites. Even now, this area faces undue risk of being leased.

Thankfully, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has made progress toward protecting our public lands from these speculative leasing practices. Last summer the agency proposed long-awaited reforms to update the federal oil and gas leasing system. These common-sense updates ensure lands with high conservation value and little oil and gas are deprioritized for leasing so that they are better managed for other important uses such as wildlife preservation and public recreation.

We need the BLM to finalize these key reforms as soon as possible so that public lands are managed in a way that best suits the needs of our wildlife, ecosystems, and communities going forward.

  • Amanda Guernsey-Cipili

    Amanda is a volunteer with the Nevada Conservation League and a Nevada resident with a background in Political and Environmental Science. She holds a BA in International Politics, specializing in History and Earth & Sustainability, and an MA in International Relations, with a focus on Social Justice.

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