Nevada Conservation League Applauds Senator Cortez Masto for Efforts to Protect Nevada’s Public Lands and Ruby Mountains from Oil and Gas Leasing

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Today, the Nevada Conservation League applauded conservation champion Senator Cortez Masto for the re-introduction of the End Speculative Oil and Gas Leasing Act and the Ruby Mountains Protection Act, legislation that would protect Nevada’s public lands and the treasured Ruby Mountains from the harmful and wasteful practice of speculative oil and gas leasing. 

“Speculative oil and gas leasing has left millions of acres of Nevada’s lands that bear little or zero development potential to be auctioned off. In most recent years, Nevada’s precious Ruby Mountains, home to an abundance of wildlife and an economic driver for our rural communities, have faced threats of oil and gas drilling. It’s time to abolish this wasteful and destructive practice,” said Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Paul Selberg. “Ending speculative oil and gas leasing prevents more pernicious land grabs by the fossil fuel industry that generate hardly any return to taxpayers and puts wildlife and surrounding communities at risk. Further, putting an end to this dirty energy practice complements ongoing efforts to prioritize our country’s transition to a clean energy future. We applaud Senator Cortez Masto for continuing to stand up for Nevada’s valued outdoor spaces and ensuring the efficient management of our public lands in a manner that benefits our communities.” 

The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 mandates the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Nevada to hold oil and gas lease auctions four times per year, offering up the state’s public lands to private oil and gas companies. This century-old oil and gas leasing system allows oil and gas companies to pursue speculative leasing on public lands, regardless of the determination of actual drilling potential. Prohibiting speculative oil and gas leasing would end the practice of companies locking up lands that could be otherwise used to help fight the climate crisis through conservation, outdoor recreation, or clean energy development. 

During the Trump administration, BLM Nevada offered over 2.5 million acres of public land for oil and gas leasing — one of the highest totals compared to other states. Additionally, 74 percent of the public lands given up for oil and gas leasing were sold at the minimum bid, which could be as low as $2 per acre.