(Sarah Downey) – Legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, seeks to curtail speculative oil leasing where there is little chance for any yield.
Cortez Masto argues that the practice in Nevada, which has far less drilling than other states in the West, has precluded federal land management officials from properly designating land for “multiple use” which, in addition to energy development, includes livestock grazing, recreation and timber harvesting, as well as natural resource conservation.
In an interview with the Nevada Independent, Cortez Masto said her goal is to help the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) better “manage the land across the West and across this country in a way that is not wasting the taxpayer’s dime but is utilizing their resources to the potential that they can be utilized.”
“If Congress wants to tackle government waste, this is a good place to start,” Sharon Buccino, a director of lands for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “Leasing lands that have little chance to be productive is a waste of agency time and money – especially when these lands could be used instead for recreation and conservation.”
Some of the policy groups endorsing the plan include the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Nevada Wildlife Federation, the League of Conservation Voters and Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Cortez Masto’s proposal provides for some exceptions to the ban. Areas presently low potential could be developed in the future, as technology allows. Low-potential parcels that are next to active production areas could also be made available for oil and gas leasing.