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RELEASE: Oil Industry Makes False Claims Over Impact of Pausing New Leases on Public Lands, CAP Analysis Finds

Washington, D.C. — The oil industry is making false claims about the impact of pausing new oil and gas leases on public lands, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress.

In January, President Joe Biden temporarily halted new oil and gas drilling leases on federal land while the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) conducts a review of the program, which is filled with speculation, waste, and low returns for taxpayers.

Ahead of a Thursday forum hosted by DOI on federal oil and gas reform, CAP’s analysis finds that industry has been spreading misinformation about the leasing pause. In fact, the oil industry already has at least 10 years’ worth of unused leases at its disposal, even with the leasing pause in place.

“Despite the industry claims, a pause on leasing alone is unlikely to substantially change federal oil and gas development in the next decade because the industry already controls so many acres of public lands,” said Jenny Rowland-Shea, a senior policy analyst for Public Lands at CAP and co-author of the column. ”The writing is on the wall for the future of the industry and it’s clear that oil and gas companies will scream ‘the sky is falling’ no matter how minimal the impact to industry or how commonsense the reforms.”

More than half of all acres currently leased by oil and gas companies—13.9 million acres in total—are not yet being used to produce oil or gas. Millions of these acres were leased cheaply during the Trump administration and are still sitting idly without creating any new jobs or revenue. That means vast swaths of public land are unavailable for other uses, such as recreation or conservation.

Read the column: “Oil and Gas Companies Are Lying About How Much Oil They Control on U.S. Public Lands” by Sahir Doshi, Jenny Rowland-Shea, and Nicole Gentile

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at  or 202-478-6327.