RELEASE: Labor, Environmental Leaders Support Reasonable Best Practices for Onshore Oil and Gas Program on Public Lands

In Letter to Interior Secretary Zinke, BlueGreen Alliance Supports Maintaining Best Practices that Ensure Responsible Oil and Gas Development on Public Lands.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 28, 2017) In a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent today, the BlueGreen Alliance expressed support for keeping policies establishing reasonable and successful best practices for critical aspects of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) onshore oil and gas program contained in IM 2010-117. The group said the policies, which are being reconsidered by the BLM, ensure responsible production and transparent and fair leasing decisions when it comes to oil and gas development on U.S. public lands.

“Working families deeply care about the natural environment,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard, co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “We need to act responsibly and with deliberation when it comes to leasing and drilling decisions. Our members working in the oil and gas sector see that common-sense practices will protect our public lands for generations to come.”

“Our public lands are enjoyed every day to hunt, fish, hike, camp, and more, and how we manage them is a concern for every American,” said National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara. “We can have responsible energy development on public lands as well as healthy fish and wildlife populations, but it requires thoughtful, comprehensive planning and public participation in land-use decisions.”

“The practices currently in use are working well and should be kept as-is,” said Utility Workers Union of American National President D. Michael Langford. “They have resulted in more informed leasing decisions that reflect the conditions on the ground. We shouldn’t backtrack on them.”

The current policy formally recognized that, because “there is no presumed preference for oil and gas development over other uses” under federal law, “leasing of oil and gas resources may not be consistent with protection of other important resources and values, including units of the National Park System; national wildlife refuges; other specially designated areas; wildlife; and cultural, historic, and paleontological values.”

This policy statement provides the BLM with the appropriate legal framework for evaluating oil and gas proposals, in particular because as recently as 2009, many staff members “believed they were required by law to give greater deference to mineral leasing proposals than to the protection of other land uses.”

“Union members and conservationists alike understand that our public lands are a national treasure that should be treated with respect and utilized wisely,” said Kim Glas, the BlueGreen Alliance’s Executive Director. “We support these reasonable best practices for the BLM’s onshore oil and gas program and urge the Trump administration to keep them in place. Rolling these policies back would destroy an established system that not only is working, but benefitting our economy and environment.”