In 2014, the Obama administration’s effort to clean up, fix, and modernize the federal government’s oil and gas leasing program on public lands will reach its most critical milestones since the Department of the Interior’s reform agenda launched in 2009. From tests of the administration’s signature oil and gas reforms to looming endangered-species decisions and overdue environmental protection rules, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will have a full plate as she works to restore balance between energy development and the protection of land, water, and wildlife.
In this brief, we assess the long-term impacts of a controversial decision by the Bush administration—one that took place five years ago this week—to lease lands near national parks in Utah for oil and gas development. We present new public opinion data that provide greater detail on Americans’ current priorities for their public lands and help explain why the Utah leasing debacle in 2008 provoked such a strong public outcry.
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