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1: Executive Summary

2: About Oil/Gas Leases

3: Oil & Gas Impacts

4: Bush Admin Rollbacks

5: The Spin on Drilling

6: Hotspot: Roan Plateau, CO

7: Hotspot: Otero Mesa, NM

8: Hotspot: Rocky Mtn Front, MT

9: Hotspot: Powder River Basin, WY

10: Hotspot: Book Cliffs, UT

11: Oil, Gas, Political Cash

12: EWG Recommendations

13: Methodology

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Oil and Gas: The "No. 1 Priority" on Public Lands

"Utah needs to ensure that existing staff understand that when an oil and gas lease parcel or when an application for permission to drill comes in the door, that this work is their No. 1 priority,"

— BLM Memo to Utah land managers, 2002. (The New York Times, February 8, 2002, page 14)

Under federal law, the Department of the Interior has a duty to balance competing uses of federal land. On the one hand, the Department must "protect the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values." On the other hand, the Department must manage public lands "in a manner which recognizes the Nation's need for domestic sources of minerals, food, timber, and fiber" (FLPMA 2004).

An Environmental Working Group analysis of government records on public land use decisions shows that the Bush administration appears to have tipped the balance in favor of oil and gas drilling, minimizing efforts to protect other important resources, and is systematically stripping land protections hard won in previous administrations. Significant actions of this administration that have favored the oil and gas interests above other public interests are documented below.

Lands newly opened to drilling

EWG's analysis of public land use decision records show that the Bush administration has issued a series of decisions and proposals that collectively will strip protections from 45 million acres of the country's most pristine remaining wild areas. The administration is on track to open for drilling an average of 12.7 million acres per year in 12 western states, compared to a net 7.7 million acres per year protected from drilling under the Clinton administration, according to an EWG analysis of government records. The decisions range from a series of Public Land Orders issued by the Department of Interior, to the recent administration proposal to entrust local government with land use decisions on millions of acres of roadless Forest Service land protected by the previous administration. Each of the actions documented below either open or close the land for mineral leasing. Closures to leasing mandated by the federal government preempt local land use plans.

From 2001-2004, 45 Million Acres in 12 Western States have been stripped of protections from drilling