Letters: America needs 21st century oil and gas leasing legislation

I support President Bidens pause on new oil and gas leasing. This pause does not effect existing leases on some 1.6 million Montana acres. It does give the federal government an opportunity to review and reform old, outdated, and inadequate oil and gas leasing direction on our federal public lands.

Federal oil and gas leasing falls under the 100 year old Mineral Leasing Act. This Act largely encourages speculation because it was developed in an era where we lacked the technology to locate geologic resources.

Today, the oil and gas industry uses very technologically advanced methods to locate fossil fuel resources. Leasing speculation is no longer needed. It ties up millions of acres of public land not possessing geologic potential for development.

Unnecessary leases also take up the precious time of Bureau of Land Management employees, time they could be spending on trail maintenance, wildlife habitat improvement projects, and public access work.

The federal government has the responsibility to be good stewards of our public lands for present and future generations. Local communities benefit from responsible and sustainable management of our natural resources.

A recent 2021 poll from Colorado College found that 64% of Montanans want the federal government to prioritize conservation and recreation on our public lands over unbridled oil and gas leasing. Congress needs to use this leasing pause to respect the desires of Montanans, and bring our oil and gas leasing system into the 21st century with strong legislation.

Rick Kerr, Choteau