Yesterday, we attended an industry webinar about the future of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) energy development on publicly owned lands – Master Leasing Plans (MLPs). The intent of MLPs is to reform BLM oil & gas leasing in order to ensure smart energy development by reducing red tape for industry and proactively protecting the mountains, forests and waterways critical to western economies and communities.

The presenting lawyers were from law firm Beatty and Wozniak, P.C., whose CEO has been appointed to the serve on at least three oil & gas company boards (Storm Cat Energy, MarkWest Hydrocarbon and Denbury Resources). So, it wasn’t too surprising that the presenters’ comments about MLPs weren’t too favorable. After all, the oil and gas industry has made no secret of wanting a blank check for drilling on our publicly owned lands. But, the presenting attorneys made two glaring inaccuracies that are worth addressing:

  1. All oil and gas leases on public lands since 2008 have been protested. FALSE

There is so much evidence to the contrary, we could be here all day. We’ll keep it simple and just point to recent testimony from former Interior Sec. Salazar on how just 18 percent of all leases offered were protested in 2012:

“Onshore oil and gas leasing reforms put in place in 2010 resulted in fewer protests; less than 18 percent of 2,064 parcels offered in fiscal year 2012 were protested, the lowest since fiscal year 2003, reducing costs and speeding development.”

  1. BLM doesn’t have the legal authority to carry out MLPs because they aren’t in Mineral Leasing Act. FALSE

The implication here seems to be that since MLPs weren’t explicitly written into statute then BLM doesn’t have the authority to implement them. This line of reasoning doesn’t hold water as all regulating agencies, including BLM, develop specific rules for legislation passed by Congress which enable them carry out the law.  BLM even has a link to the laws that apply to BLM-managed lands and the corresponding rules and regulations.

Let’s hope that next time our industry friends don’t let their oil and gas connections skew the facts.