On October 7, 2021 Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper introduced a bill to end noncompetitive oil and gas leasing. The “Competitive Onshore Mineral Policy via Eliminating Taxpayer-Enabled Speculation Act” (COMPETES Act) was introduced with Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) as cosponsors. The leasing loophole, known as noncompetitive leasing, has undermined multiple uses of our public lands by allowing noncompetitive bids after the close of an oil and gas lease sale for pennies on the dollar per acre. That is, if a parcel is not sold during the lease sale, it can be sold afterwards, paying $1.50 per acre – outside of the lease sale bidding process for up to 10 years.
Colorado Wildlife Federation appreciates and supports this necessary bill. The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 99 percent of these leases are never developed, tying up the public land parcel that could otherwise be used to improve wildlife habitat, recreation or other uses. Senator Hickenlooper’s COMPETES Act will create a more streamlined, efficient leasing system by requiring all oil and gas lease sales on public lands to be issued through a fair competitive process. Lands not leased at competitive auction are those that the market has already determined to have no or little value for oil and gas development. Rather than blindly making these lands available at cut-rate prices for leasing through the noncompetitive process, the federal government should wait to lease them until there is sufficient market interest.
Here is the press release issued by Sen. Hickenlooper’s office Press release