Understanding the Rise in Gas Prices and Leasing on Public Lands

March 18, 2022

I am sure that you are all too familiar with the increased burden gas prices are putting on families around Wyoming. A year of bad policy, months of inflation, and now an international crisis are all to blame.

Instead of solutions, the White House has offered up glib rhetoric that continues to demonize the domestic energy industry. Last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki implied that American energy companies had everything they needed to fix gas prices. That couldn’t be further from the truth. 

To clear up confusion, here’s a brief run-down of what an energy company must do to set up operations on federal land (read more about it here):

  1. To even get a lease, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has to hold a lease sale. The Biden administration has yet to hold a lease sale, despite an order by a federal judge to resume the sales.
  2. Due to the patchwork nature of federal lands, companies often have to secure multiple parcels of land in order to drill in one area.
  3. Once a lease has been secured, a company submits an application for a permit to drill (APD). The Biden administration is currently sitting on 4,621 permits to drill.
  4. Companies then have to navigate a series of inspections and procedures, including a BLM inspection, and an environmental (NEPA) analysis. This can take years.
  5. Companies then must submit a Sundry notice, or an additional written request to perform work on the lease.
  6. A company must also secure Rights of Way, which also get bogged down in the bureaucratic process.
  7. A company can’t even EXPLORE on the lease until all these steps are completed. They could finish this process, explore the area, and find no actionable minerals. It’s a huge risk. Many of those 9,000 secured leases may just be unusable for energy development. 
  8. Capital for projects must be acquired, but radical environmental groups lobby hard to shame investors into passing on fossil fuel projects, and the Biden administration has appointed far-left activists to key roles in financial oversight agencies. They’ve worked to debank and decapitalize the entire industry.
  9. Then, even if all of these steps are accomplished without incident, many projects get caught up in frivolous, environmentalist litigation, creating even more logjam for the industry. Right now, more than 2,000 environmental activism cases are being litigated against these projects. 

So it’s more than just “giving them the permits,” though that would help immensely. Cutting the red tape is necessary to unleash American energy and help combat future price spikes like we’re facing now.

Unfortunately, even if we got the American energy sector operating back at 100 percent tomorrow, it still will take some time for gas prices to drop again. I understand the strain this puts on the wallets of people around Wyoming every day, and I’m working with my colleagues in the Senate to find ways to tackle this issue. It is complex, but we must address the complexity before we can fix it, not just make dismissive, political statements.