BLM Leasing

Background Information:

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) controls the use of publicly owned lands with a mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. This includes administering oil and gas exploration rights to around 700 million acres of publicly owned mineral estates that could potentially be leased out to private companies. Because of this authority, the regulations and decision making process of the BLM can have a huge impact on the supply of domestically produced oil and gas.

Management of public lands is of intense interest and controversy, particularly in the western United States (due to the high concentration of public land in that area). Many use public lands for recreation, grazing for cattle, oil and gas extraction, and other activities. Balancing these many uses with preservation of the environment is a complicated matter.

The mechanism by which the BLM controls oil and gas uses is by selling leases to individuals and companies through public auction. Each auction time and location is announced prior to the sale so that any interested party may participate. How many leases should be sold? Where should they be located? What standards for environmental protections should be required for each lease? All of these decisions are made by BLM officials.

How can effective and timely management decisions be made by those so far removed from the areas in question? Energy companies suggest that the states be given the right to control public lands within their boundaries so that decisions can be made by those directly affected by the decisions.

Helpful Links:

American Petroleum Institute summary of access to oil and gas reserves:

FAQ about BLM mineral leases:

BLM leasing regulations governing oil and gas:


BLM Leasing Issues for Onshore Exploration / Access


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