April 12, 2021
The Honorable Debra Haaland
Secretary of Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior 1849 C St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20240
Dear Secretary Haaland,
I am writing to you on behalf of over 1,900 members of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition), a non-profit organization composed of retired, former, and current employees of the National Park Service (NPS). The Coalition studies, educates, speaks, and acts for the preservation of America’s National Park System. As a group, we collectively represent over 40,000 years of experience managing and protecting America’s most precious and important natural, cultural, and historic resources.
First, we appreciate the Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) inclusive approach to conducting a thorough review of its fossil fuels leasing programs. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) respectively, these programs have been the subject of considerable environmental concern during the past four years under the Trump administration’s “industry-first” mineral leasing policies.
We know that you, unlike your predecessor, fully understand the federal mineral estate belongs to the American people, not to the fossil fuels industry. It is time to “bring balance to the force” and reinstate a more cautious, “conservation-first” approach that is more reflective of the Department’s role as the Nation’s chief steward of our publicly owned mineral reserves.
We offer the following comments and recommendations for your consideration:
- CORE PRINCIPLES
Comprehensive reform of the DOI fossil fuels program should be based upon the following core principles:
Core Principle #1: It is time to align management of the federal mineral estate with DOI’s mission statement and put “conservation first.”
The DOI mission statement begins with…:“[t]he Department of the Interior (DOI) conserves and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people…” (emphasis added).This simple statement reflects the order of priorities under which the Department should exercise its authority for managing the federal mineral estate – conservation comes before management (or use). With “conservation first” as the priority, it is clear that exploitation of non-renewable fossils fuels on public lands must be managed in a way that actually conserves a broad spectrum of “the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people” and not just the mineral estate itself.
In the big picture, it is undeniable that the burning of fossil fuels, in general, including those extracted from the federal mineral estate, contribute significantly to the cumulative carbon emissions that are a primary cause of global climate change. Warming temperatures, sea level rise, prolonged droughts, spreading insect infestations, increasing frequency and intensity of catastrophic wildfires, and increasing frequency and intensity of major tropical storms – all caused by climate change fueled by carbon emissions – are already having devastating adverse impacts on “the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage” that DOI is obligated to manage “for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people.”
Because of these impacts, DOI leasing program reforms should focus on quickly reducing the total amount of fossil fuel extraction from the federal mineral estate to only that which is absolutely necessary and appropriate to support national security and economic interests as America transitions toward reliance on renewable energy over the next few decades. In practical terms, this means among other things:
- Quickly curtail fossil fuel extraction on public lands and the outer continental shelf (OCS) to mitigate the effects of climate change;
- In general, limit future federal oil and gas leasing to high production potential / low environmental risk locations to the extent possible; stop leasing in locations, whether onshore or offshore, that are low production potential / high environmental risk;
- Onshore oil and gas leasing: Eliminate “speculative” leasing practices, such as anonymous expressions of interest (EOIs) and noncompetitive lease awards; stop leasing low production potential parcels adjacent to specially protected, nationally significant natural and cultural resources, such as units of the national park system, the national trail system, and the national wildlife refuge system; designated wilderness areas; designated critical habitat for federally-listed threatened or endangered species; areas of critical environmental concern; and significant cultural and archeological sites. These special places, not the mineral deposits on adjacent public lands, are our Nation’s heritage to hold dear, conserve, and pass on unimpaired to future generations.
- Coal mining on public lands: Impose an immediate moratorium on all coal mining activity on public lands until the review is complete; during the review, differentiate between leasing for thermal coal vs. metallurgical coal. For thermal coal, issue no new leases, terminate inactive leases, and phase out existing active leases as soon as reasonable; and do not allow thermal coal extracted from public lands to be exported for burning in other countries. For metallurgical coal, allow continued leasing on public lands for the foreseeable future, based on the “necessary and appropriate” principle, until more environmentally friendly alternative(s) are readily available.
- Offshore oil and gas leasing: Place a moratorium on new OCS leasing until BOEM has updated its current five-year leasing program; limit new leasing to locations with established oil and gas leasing operations; do not initiate new offshore leasing adjacent to states that formally object to it because of the risks it creates to their thriving tourism industry, commercial fishing, or other “sustainable economies” that are dependent upon unpolluted marine waters and clean beaches.
- Offshore oil and gas safety regulations: Conduct an objective review of key regulations that were revised under the previous administration.
Core Principle #2: The federal mineral estate belongs to the American people, not the extraction industry. It is time for the Department to put the public interest ahead of the industry’s interest.
For far too long, DOI fossil fuels management practices and procedures have been designed for the convenience and benefit of the extraction industry, not to protect the public interest. However, the public (i.e., the American taxpayer) deserves a fair return on the exploitation of publicly owned, non-renewable energy resources that DOI manages on the public’s behalf. The public also deserve a fair opportunity to comment on federal leasing policies and proposals; and lessees (not the public) must be held fully accountable for cleanup and reclamation costs related to drilling or mining activities. In practical terms, this means among other things:
- Implement comprehensive program reforms that clearly put the interests of the American people above that of the oil and gas and mining industries;
- Leasing fees must be raised to reflect fair market value;
- There should be a minimum mandatory 30-day public comment period on all lease sale proposals; a minimum 30-day protest period; and
- Reclamation bonds for all mineral leasing activities must be based on typical costs of full restoration of drilling and mining sites; lessees who fail to restore sites in a timely manner should be excluded from further leasing until they have fulfilled their restoration obligations.
We offer more detailed comments below regarding specific DOI fossil fuel programs.
- REFORM THE ONSHORE OIL AND GAS LEASING PROGRAM MANAGED BY BLM
Background: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages the federal government’s onshore subsurface mineral estate – consisting of about 700 million acres (30% of the United States) held by the BLM, U.S. Forest Service and other Federal agencies and surface owners – for the benefit of the American public. BLM also manages some aspects of the oil and gas development for Indian tribes from the Tribal mineral estate.
Procedures for administering the oil and gas leasing program are derived from applicable laws, regulations, and agency-issued directives. Effective, comprehensive, and durable reform of the program requires changes at all three levels of public policy. The following reforms are recommended:
- Re-align BLM leasing program priorities and practices with applicable statutory mandates and the core principle of putting “conservation” first.
For many decades, BLM has managed the onshore oil and gas leasing program under the flawed premise that “leasing is required”, which is clearly not the case. The Mineral Leasing Act (MLA), 30 U.S.C. § 22, authorizes, but does not require, the Secretary to lease federally owned “oil and gas lands.”
The Federal Lands Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), 43 U.S.C. § 1701 (a)(8), requires BLM to manage public lands “in a manner that will protect the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values” (emphasis added). Federal courts have consistently held that oil and gas development is not the dominant use of public lands and must be weighed against other valid uses, including recreation, fish and wildlife conservation, and renewable energy development.
In addition, numerous other environmental and historic preservation laws, all of which emphasize conserving natural and cultural resources, are applicable to BLM’s oil and gas leasing program. These statutes include: the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Wilderness Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Archeological Resource Protect Act, and others.
The first and foremost reform needed now is for BLM to transform its traditional thinking from “leasing is required” (which it is not) to: “conservation is required; leasing is not.” Under a “conservation first” strategy, it follows that while leasing may be allowed, it should only be allowed when necessary and appropriate to support national security and economic interests and if/when such leasing not in conflict with conservation. Putting such a transformation of BLM’s fossil fuels programs into practice requires significant reforms of applicable policies, regulations, and laws.
- In general, DOI should conduct a systematic review of all applicable BLM internal policy guidance. Make revisions, as needed, so that internal policies for managing the oil and gas program put “conservation” and the “public interest” first.
Specifically, BLM has the authority to make the following changes as soon as possible:
- Revoke and replace Instruction Memorandum (IM) 2014-004, “Oil and Gas Informal Expressions of Interest.” This IM authorized anonymous expressions of interest (EOI’s), i.e., parcel nominations, which allows unidentified individuals or companies to “game the system” by requesting that BLM offer leases on specific parcels with low competitive interest. If/when there are no offers during the competitive sale, the nominator can then acquire the lease(s) noncompetitively at bargain basement prices. In general, BLM should eliminate the use of “informal” EOI’s altogether and rely upon the “formal” nominations process set forth in existing BLM regulations. This would require anyone nominating public lands for leasing to disclose their identity as well as the identities of third parties who they are representing. There simply is no public benefit in allowing the industry to remain anonymous when submitting nominations for lease parcels.
- Revoke and replace IM 2018-03, “Updating Oil and Gas Leasing Reform – Land Use Planning and Lease Parcel Reviews.” This IM drastically altered parcel review procedures that had been in effect since 2010 under IM 2010-117. Among other things, the IM 2018-034 imposed an artificial deadline of 6 months on BLM offices to complete parcel previews from the date of receipt of an expression of interest (EOI) to awarding leases; state offices could no longer rotate quarterly lease sales by field office; lease issuing offices could no longer “defer” leasing public lands in locations with an out-of-date or otherwise inadequate resource management plan/EIS or “RMP” (incredibly, the IM directed BLM to presume the outdated RMP is a valid basis for current leasing decisions); reduced public comment opportunities on lease sales from “30 days required” to “may be allowed” (typically resulting in comment periods of only 0-15 days); reduced formal protest periods for lease sale notices from 30 day to 10 days; and eliminated the use of master leasing plans (MLPs) in locations where leasing could cause multiple-use or natural/cultural resource conflicts, such as when adjacent to national parks and refuges, wilderness areas, and significant cultural and archeological sites.
The net effect of these “streamlining” changes is that BLM state and field offices have less time to conduct parcel reviews and related NEPA processes, while offering leases over a broader (i.e., state-wide rather than district-wide) area every quarter. These measures, in effect, have compelled BLM staff to cut corners in various steps of the parcel review process. The net result has been less thorough and more flawed parcel reviews that have been prepared with significantly less public involvement. IM 2018-034 is the epitome of freezing the public out of having a say in the management of public lands!
IM 2018-034 should be replaced with a new IM that includes the following provisions:
- A mandatory minimum 30-day public comment period on lease sale proposals;
- A 30-day protest period for lease sale notices;
- Deferral of proposed leasing in locations lacking up-to-date RMP’s;
- Formal structured collaboration with neighboring agencies that manage specially protected resources such as national parks and refuges, wilderness areas; and significant cultural and archeological sites.
- Note: Under IM 2010-117, MLPs provided a “process” for such interagency collaboration; however, we are not convinced it was the most efficient way to accomplish it. In practice, MLPs took years to prepare and few were ever completed (a notable exception was the Moab MLP). Therefore, we recommend that DOI re-evaluate the MLP process to determine if it should be reinstituted as it was or revised significantly to make it a more effective and efficient process.
- Review and update, as needed, IM 2019-014, “Oil and Gas Bond Adequacy Reviews.”
This IM directs each BLM field office administering an oil and gas program to perform bond adequacy reviews on all bonds at least every five (5) years or earlier when warranted. In practice, this means bond reviews should target one-fifth (20%) of the total active bonds for adequacy each FY.
At the core of this issue is that BLM’s bonding and reclamation framework for dealing with inactive and orphaned wells is completely inadequate, as it lets the industry shift millions in clean-up costs to taxpayers and fails to protect public lands, waters, and nearby communities. A 2019 GAO study found that the average value of bonds held by BLM for oil and gas wells was only $2,122. The same study found that while BLM does not estimate reclamation costs for all wells, it has estimated reclamation costs for thousands of wells whose operators have filed for bankruptcy. Based on an analysis of those estimates, GAO identified two cost scenarios: low-cost wells typically cost about $20,000 to reclaim, and high-cost wells typically cost about $145,000 to reclaim.
The numerical implications of GAO’s findings are mind-boggling! The average bond collected by BLM ($2,122) would cover only about 10% of the actual cost for reclaiming a “low-cost well”; and only 1.5% of reclaiming a “high-cost well”. How on God’s green earth is that putting the public interest first?
- In principle, reclamation bonds should cover the actual estimated cost for well-plugging, abandonment, and reclamation; or at least minimally cover the typical cost of reclaiming a “low-cost” well (i.e., $20,000); and
- Operators who fail to fulfill reclamation requirements in a timely manner should lose their leasing privileges until all outstanding requirements have been completed.
Revising internal BLM policies, such as the above IM’s, is only the beginning of comprehensive reforms needed in the fossil fuels leasing program. Regulatory changes are also needed, which we will discuss in the section below.
- Conduct a comprehensive review to update and revise applicable BLM oil and gas regulations with the objective of systematically reducing oil and gas extraction on public lands to levels that are both necessary and appropriate considering climate change. Prepare a programmatic environmental statement (PEIS) to evaluate the impacts and benefits of proposed rule changes.
We recommend the following reforms be implemented:
- Eliminate anonymous expressions of interest (EOIs);
- Eliminate noncompetitive lease awards; if no competitive bids are submitted, then the parcels should be taken off the table for leasing opportunities for the next five years;
- Raise lease fees based on a fair market value evaluation; lease fees should be re-evaluated every five years; and in between 5-year reviews, the cost of leases should be adjusted annually based on inflation.
- Amend the term of competitive leases from “a primary term of 10 years” to “an initial term of 5 years with an option to renew it for an additional 5 years” (still 10 years total); however, if the lessee takes no tangible steps (such as filing for a permit to survey or to begin operations) to use the initial 5-year term of the lease, then the cost of the lease should automatically double for the second term;
- Generally limit onshore leasing, to the extent possible, to parcels identified as having high production potential and low environmental impact;
- Stop leasing in locations that have low production potential and high environmental risk to specially protected natural and cultural resources, such as units of the national park system, the national trail system, and the national wildlife refuge system; designated wilderness areas; designated critical habitat for federally-listed threatened or endangered species; areas of critical environmental concern; and significant cultural and archeological sites. These special places, not the mineral deposits on adjacent public lands, are our Nation’s heritage to hold dear, conserve, and pass on unimpaired to future generations;
- Establish automatic no leasing (NL) or no surface occupancy (NSO) stipulations of at least 5 miles (and up to 10 miles if circumstances warrant) from the boundaries of any of the specially protected resource areas listed in the bullet above;
- Raise the cost of reclamation bonds for well plugging, abandonment and site reclamation to be equivalent of the current average estimated cost of restoring similar sites; or to at least $20,000 which GAO determined to be the typical reclamation cost of a “low cost” well (see previous section for details);
- Set a firm but reasonable time limit for completing site restoration once a well is decommissioned or abandoned; and disqualify operators who fail to meet their site restoration obligation(s) from new leasing until reclamation obligations have been met.
- Legislative action is also needed to codify key reforms into law. Toward that end, DOI should support the following legislative proposals:
- R. 815 (Rep. Huffman) Arctic Refuge Protection Act of 2021: The bill would repeal the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil and gas program; and designate the Arctic coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, as wilderness.
- R. 1492 (Rep. DeGette) Methane Waste Prevention Act of 2021: Under the terms of the bill, oil and gas producers would be required to take steps to cut their methane emissions by at least 65 percent by 2025; and by at least 90 percent below their 2012 emissions by 2030.
- R. 1503 (Rep. Levin) Restoring Community Input and Public Protections in Oil and Gas Leasing Act of 2021: Among other things, the bill would eliminate noncompetitive oil and gas leasing, requiring companies to pay a fee to nominate lands for leasing, and raising the onshore oil and gas royalty rate, rental fee, and the minimum bid amount; and restore community input by eliminating actions taken by the Trump Administration that cut public participation in oil and gas leasing decisions and shortened public comment periods.
- R. 1505 (Rep. Lowenthal) Bonding Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2021: The bill would help ensure complete and timely cleanup of oil and gas well sites by increasing – for the first time in 60 years – the minimum bond amount that BLM requires for reclamation.
- R. 1506 (Rep. Lowenthal) Transparency in Energy Production Act of 2021: The bill would require companies seeking or holding a lease to drill on public lands to track and report the amount of energy production and resulting emissions from federal lands and waters.
- R. 1517 (Rep. Porter) Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act of 2021: The bill would raise onshore royalty rates for the first time in a century; ensure a fair return to taxpayers for use of their federal lands; and ensure future actions adequately incorporate the costs of climate change and damages to human and environmental health that come from fossil fuels.
Summary comment: The intent and cumulative effect of all of the above proposed changes would be to shrink the leasing of the federal onshore mineral estate to only that which is necessary and appropriate to protect America’s national security and economic interests; and to minimize adverse environmental impacts of leasing that does continue to occur. Once the proposed changes have been made, BLM should incorporate them into an updated version of the “Gold Book – Surface Operating Standards and Guidelines for Oil and Gas Exploration and Development,” which was last updated in 2007. Or, if not updated, the outdated Gold Book should be revoked.
III. REFORM THE COAL LEASING PROGRAM MANAGED BY BLM
Background: The BLM manages roughly 570 million acres of federal land that can be leased to private companies for mining coal. Just over forty percent of all coal in the United States is extracted from BLM leases. Eighty-five percent of that federal coal is produced solely in the Powder River Basin (PRB) region of Wyoming and Montana.
We have two primary concerns related to the coal leasing program: 1) Burning coal to generate electricity is a major contributor to carbon emissions driving climate change; and 2) Four features of the coal leasing program result in inadequate leasing and royalty rates: a) the fair market value fails to reflect the value of the underlying resources; b) the noncompetitive bidding process depresses lease prices; c) companies circumvent royalties through captive transfers; and d) the entire program fails to account for negative local and global environmental impacts of coal production. We recommend the following action:
- Impose an immediate moratorium on all coal mining activity on public lands until a comprehensive review of the program is completed.
The review should fully consider the following reforms:
- BLM leasing policy should differentiate between leasing for thermal coal vs. metallurgical coal.
- For thermal coal, BLM should terminate inactive leases, and phase out existing active leases as soon as reasonable. The U.S. should not exacerbate climate change by exporting thermal coal to other countries
- For metallurgical coal, allow continued leasing on public lands for the foreseeable future, based on the “necessary and appropriate” principle, until more environmentally friendly alternative(s) are readily available.
- For whatever coal leasing is allowed to continue, BLM must dramatically reform its lease fee setting practices. Numerous GAO, OIG, and law review reports  document many shortcomings in BLM’s process for estimating the “fair market value” of coal leases. All reports we’ve read indicate that leases are significantly undervalued resulting in the cumulative loss of millions of dollars in federal receipts. Among the shortcomings noted are the following: 1) the fair market value fails to reflect the value of the underlying resources; 2) the noncompetitive bidding process depresses lease prices; 3) companies circumvent royalties through captive transfers; and 4) the entire program fails to account for negative local and global environmental impacts of coal production.
- In general, revise all applicable policies and regulations to ensure the coal leasing program puts conservation first and the public interest ahead of the industry’s interest.
- REFORM THE OUTER CONTINTENTAL SHELF (OCS) OIL AND GAS LEASING PROGRAM MANAGED BY BY BOEM
Background: In 2011, after a review of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the Department divided the functions of the former Minerals Management Service and assigned them to three newly created agencies, which included: the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which manages development of U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) energy and mineral resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way. BOEM administers both the OCS oil and gas exploration and development program under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act; and the OCS renewable energy program under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
We recommend that BOEM take the following actions to reform the OCS oil and gas program:
- Impose an immediate moratorium on issuing new leases under the current five-year OCS leasing program.
- In general, limit future leasing to locations with established oil and gas leasing operations; and do not initiate new leasing adjacent to states that formally object to it because of the risks it creates to thriving tourism, commercial fishing, and other sustainable coastal economies that depend upon unpolluted marine waters and clean beaches.
- Prepare and issue a new draft proposed program (DPP) for FY 2023-2028 that includes the following provisions:
- The new DPP must comply with the balancing requirements of Section 18(a)(3) of OCSLA, which requires the Secretary to render decisions on the timing and location of OCS leasing that strike a balance between the potential for environmental damage, the potential for discovery of oil and gas, and the adverse impact on the coastal zone.
- Only necessary and appropriate lease opportunities should be offered; and these should be focused in areas with the greatest production potential with relatively limited environmental risk.
- Information provided in the 2019-2024 DPP identified areas with by the greatest production potential to be the Central Gulf of Mexico (GOM), Chukchi Sea (AK), Western GOM, and Beaufort Sea (AK). Of these, the Central GOM and Western GOM are currently the most extensively leased, with over 50,000 wells drilled (DPP Sections 4.3.1 and 4.3.2).
- The new DPP should clearly identify planning areas with relatively limited production potential or relatively high environmental and social costs; and such areas should be excluded from proposed leasing in order to “strike a balance” between the potential for environmental damage and the potential for discovery of oil and gas.
- The new DPP should include coastal buffer(s) to accommodate concerns such as military use, fish and marine mammal migration and other near-shore uses, and be universally applied to all planning areas with populated shorelines.
- A variety of other mitigation measures should also be considered including: avoidance of OCS oil and gas activities in ALL environmentally important areas (EIAs); temporal closures or restrictions to avoid conflicts with fish and wildlife during nesting/birthing/young rearing periods and migrations; and restrictions on the use of seismic air guns at certain times and in certain locations to protect marine mammals.
- The new DPP should be responsive to state concerns in accordance with Section 19(c) of OCSLA, which states: “The Secretary shall accept (emphasis added) recommendations of the Governor and may accept recommendations of the executive of any affected local government if he determines, after having provided the opportunity for consultation, that they provide for a reasonable balance between the national interest and the well-being of the citizens of the affected State.” By any reasonable interpretation of the statute, BOEM should accept any state’s formal request to be exlcuded from OCS leasing; and then focus proposed leasing in areas with existing leases that have their respective state’s support.
- REFORM THE OCS OIL AND GAS SAFETY AND ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM MANAGED BY BSEE
Background: In 2011following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) was established to enforce offshore safety and environmental regulations, as well as promote a culture of safety, environmental stewardship, and resource conservation. In the years following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BSEE promulgated multiple OCS oil and gas safety regulations to address findings and recommendations of the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Spill. Just a few years later under a new administration, BSEE made significant revisions to two of the new OCS oil and gas safety regulations, alleging that compliance with the rules was burdensome for the industry and the revisions would not significantly compromise safety and environmental protection. The revisions raised significant concerns among conservation groups, who were concerned that the weakened safety requirements would increase the chances of another disastrous OCS oil spill. However, under previous DOI leadership it was difficult to discern if the revised regulations have resulted in any serious problems or not.
Based on its assigned program responsibilities and the circumstances described above, we recommend that BSEE take the following actions:
- BSEE should re-evaluate and amend, if appropriate, the specific regulations in question:
- Commission an independent review (e.g., by the National Academy of Engineers) of the 2018 revision of the Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems rule for the OCS. Address any shortcomings found in the rule through the appropriate process, such as revision of internal policy directives or new rulemaking, if needed.
- Commission an independent review (e.g., by the National Academy of Engineers) of the 2019 revision of BSEE’s OCS Blowout Preventer and Well Control rule. Address any shortcomings found through the appropriate process, such as revision of internal policy directives or new rulemaking, if needed.
In closing, we greatly appreciate this opportunity to comment about much needed reforms of the Department’s fossil fuels leasing programs.
Philip A. Francis, Jr., Chair
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
Laura Daniel-Davis, Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary – Land and Mineral Management
Shannon Estenoz, Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary – Fish and Wildlife and Parks
Shawn Benge, Acting Director, National Park Service
 See, e.g., Testimony from Michael Nedd, Deputy Director, Operations, BLM, to the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources (Mar. 12, 2019) (leasing “required by the Mineral Leasing Act.”); Memorandum from DOI Inspector General, to Robert Abbey, Director, BLM 6 (Dec. 29, 2009) (“Kent Hoffman [Utah’s Deputy State Director for Lands and Minerals] and the BLM USO Natural Resource Specialist both commented that BLM is required by law to hold a quarterly lease sale.”), available athttps://www.doioig.gov/sites/doioig.gov/files/BLM-Lease-Report_508.pdf.
 See 30 U.S.C. § 226, which states: “All lands subject to disposition under this chapter which are known or believed to contain oil or gas deposits may be leased by the Secretary.” https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/30/226
 See, e.g., N.M. ex rel. Richardson v. BLM, 565 F.3d 683, 710 (10th Cir. 2009) (“It is past doubt that the principle of multiple use does not require BLM to prioritize [oil and gas] development over other uses;”) Nat’l Mining Ass’n v. Zinke, 877 F.3d 845, 872 (9th Cir. 2017) (“Nor does [multiple use] preclude the agency from taking a cautious approach to assure preservation of natural and cultural resources.”).