Background from Federal Register:
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing a rule to revise the BLM’s oil and gas leasing regulations. Among other things, the proposed rule would reflect provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act pertaining to royalty rates, rentals, and minimum bids, and would update the bonding requirements for leasing, development, and production. The proposed rule would also improve the BLM’s leasing process to ensure proper stewardship of public lands and resources and would revise some operating requirements.
This proposed rule aims to enhance the administration of oil and gas-related activities on America’s public lands and reflects provisions in recently enacted laws that modify aspects of the Federal onshore oil and gas program. Specifically, the proposed rule would implement changes pertaining to royalty rates, rentals, and minimum bids for BLM-issued oil and gas leases and would update the bonding requirements for leasing, development, and production. The BLM has not comprehensively updated the Federal onshore oil and gas program’s regulatory framework since 1988. As a result, many of the program’s regulatory requirements are outdated, do not adequately protect the fiscal interests of the American public, and do not promote leasing practices that are consistent with diligent development requirements and multiple-use and sustained-yield principles. This proposed rule seeks to update the existing regulations accordingly.
Why this matters:
The Federal regulatory framework for oil and gas leasing has not been updated since 1988, which means it is critical to secure Indigenous input on the issue while it is in play. We have in this proposed rule an opportunity to steer policy toward respecting Indigenous sovereignty and our Constitutionally championed treaty rights.
We commend and congratulate BLM, DOI, and the Biden administration for proposing this rule that would better manage oil and gas leasing on public lands so that all land uses, not just oil and gas development, can have importance in decision-making. However, there is currently no specific language about treaty obligations in the proposed rule, despite it being a document concerning Federal land leasing policy. If we are to have a just, rational, and future-conscious approach to land management in this country, the continued violation of Tribal treaty rights cannot stand unchecked.
NDN Collective urges Tribal leaders and citizens, as well as our allies, to call upon BLM and DOI to honor the Federal government’s fiduciary treaty responsibilities to Tribal nations.
By doing this we will be taking steps to protect and preserve our lands, waterways, and sacred cultural sites from the environmental damage that is inevitably caused by encroachment upon our spaces by oil and gas development.
Additionally, the Biden-Harris administration in December of 2022 released new guidance and an implementation memorandum on recognizing the importance of Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) in Federal decision making. ITEK is the interwoven system of Indigenous observations, adaptations, oral and written knowledge, land management practices, and traditional beliefs that promotes environmental sustainability and the responsible stewardship of natural resources through relationships between humans and environmental systems.
In the November 2021 announcement that the White House Commits to Elevating Indigenous Knowledge in Federal Policy Making, Dr. Eric Lander, the President’s Science Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said, “Indigenous knowledge should inform Federal decision making. This effort will give Federal agencies the tools they need to ensure Indigenous knowledge is appropriately considered and elevated.”
Additionally, Brenda Mallory, Chair of the White House Council on Ecological Quality, said, “Tribal and Native communities have stewarded these lands since time immemorial. Their voices and their expertise are critical to finding solutions to address the climate crisis, an issue that disproportionately affects Tribal and Native communities. Today’s commitment will help ensure that Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge is a part of decision making across the Federal Government for the betterment of people and the planet.”
We strongly urge BLM and DOI to heed the directives of this executive order by centering ITEK, Tribal consent, and Tribal treaty rights in its current effort to reform oil and gas leasing policy.
Public Comment Procedure:
Send your comments on this proposed rule to the BLM on or before September 22, 2023. The BLM is not obligated to consider any comments received after this date in making its decision on the final rule.
Please make your comments on the proposed rule as specific as possible, confine them to issues pertinent to the proposed rule, explain the reason for any changes you recommend, and include any supporting documentation. Where possible, your comments should reference the specific section or paragraph of the proposal that you are addressing.
The BLM is not obligated to consider or include in the Administrative Record for the final rule any comments received after the close of the comment period (September 22, 2023) or comments delivered to an address other than those listed previously (see the Take Action Now! section below).
Comments, including names and street addresses of respondents, will be available for public review at the address listed under “Mail, personal or messenger delivery” during regular hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Eastern Time), Monday through Friday, except holidays.
Before including your address, telephone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold from public review your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
Take Action Now!
Send your comment by mail, personal, or messenger delivery:
U.S. Department of the Interior, Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, 1849 C St. NW, Room 5646, Washington, DC 20240, Attention: 1004–AE80.
Make your comment online:
Visit https://www.regulations.gov/document/BLM-2023-0005-0001 and click on ‘Comment‘ found under the heading Fluid Mineral Leases and Leasing Process.
Send your comments on this proposed rule to the BLM on or before September 22, 2023.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Peter Cowan, Senior Mineral Leasing Specialist, telephone: (720) 838–1641 or email: email@example.com, for information regarding the substance of this proposed rule or Matt Warren, Acting Division Chief for the Division of Fluid Minerals, telephone: (505) 216–8832, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, for information about the BLM’s fluid minerals program. For questions relating to regulatory process issues, contact Faith Bremner at email: email@example.com.