Bennet Welcomes Historic Oil and Gas Leasing Reform, Including First Updated Bonding Rates in More Than Sixty Years

Final BLM Rule Follows Bennet’s Legislation and Calls to Ensure Taxpayers Aren’t Left to Foot the Bill for Oil and Gas Cleanup Costs

Denver — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet welcomed the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule to modernize the onshore oil and gas leasing program for public lands. The rule includes critical provisions to update bonding requirements for oil and gas operations, aligned with Bennet’s legislation and repeated calls to the administration. Last week, Bennet led 20 bicameral colleagues to call on President Biden to finalize this rule by the end of the month. 

“Current oil and gas bonding rules often leave taxpayers on the hook to clean up abandoned wells and haven’t been updated in more than sixty years. That’s why I’ve pushed President Biden for years to follow Colorado’s lead and hold oil and gas companies accountable,” said Bennet. “I’m pleased the President heard our calls and acted to save taxpayers money and better protect Colorado’s communities and natural resources.”

BLM’s updated final Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Rule takes important steps to ensure that oil and gas companies – not taxpayers – pay the costs of cleaning up oil and gas wells. The final rule also implements reforms from the Inflation Reduction Act including increasing royalty rates and prohibiting non-competitive leasing. The proposed rule also focuses leasing decisions away from lands with little potential for oil and gas production, wildlife habitat, cultural resources, and other sensitive places; and limits access for operators with a history of noncompliance and abuse. 

Bennet has consistently worked to update oil and gas bonding requirements and hold oil and gas companies accountable to clean up their operations and protect surrounding communities. In October 2023, Bennet brought together 10 of his Senate colleagues to support updated oil and gas bonding requirements in BLM’s proposed Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Rule, and to call on Biden administration leaders to swiftly review public input and finalize the rule. The final rule aligns with Bennet’s Oil and Gas Bonding Reform and Orphaned Well Remediation Act and follows his letters to the Biden administration in December 2022 and July 2023 urging them to update the nation’s antiquated oil and gas bonding system.