Western Energy Alliance Responds to Democratic Shutdown Forum

January 24, 2019

DENVER - Today, Western Energy Alliance responded to the House Natural Resources Committee Democrats’ forum on “President Trump’s Oil and Gas Industry Favoritism During the Government Shutdown.”

“Just because the government is shut down doesn’t mean private-sector economic activity grinds to a halt,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance. “Prior-approved production of oil and natural gas on non-park, non-wilderness public lands continues to provide Americans with the energy they need to heat their homes, get to school and work, and keep the lights on.

“As is proper during similar shutdowns in the past, agencies designate essential employees who continue to work. BLM has likewise maintained a similar skeleton staff in the state and field offices to ensure that ongoing operations continue in a safe manner that is protective of the environment. The primary focus of essential BLM staff during this shutdown is to react to changing circumstances in the field. Oil and natural gas production is a dynamic process. Circumstances can arise in the field that require BLM approval. Essential staff must be available to ensure operations remain safe and the environment protected.

“BLM has also been approving a limited number of already-submitted permits that were close to approval before the shutdown and are needed to prevent rigs from being laid down. These limited approvals ensure that development doesn’t stop, because once a rig is laid down on federal lands, it can be lost indefinitely to nonfederal areas. BLM must also ensure it is not holding up development on tribal lands that is essential for the well-being of tribes whose economies depend on oil and natural gas revenues. Since oil and natural gas is overwhelmingly the largest source of revenue on BLM lands and for certain energy tribes, it simply doesn’t make sense to cut off that revenue completely. BLM essential employees supporting oil and natural gas during this shutdown are funded by the oil and natural gas industry through permitting fees and ultimately, the royalty revenue that is generated on public lands.

“Western Energy Alliance would welcome the opportunity to discuss these and other issues regarding environmentally responsible oil and natural gas development on public lands at a formal Committee hearing in the future. Energy tribes that produce significant quantities of oil and natural gas should also be included in such hearings,” concluded Sgamma.