Scorched earth: Haaland’s Interior to put public land oil leases in crosshairs


The Department of Interior Department will host a virtual forum on Thursday, March 25 to discuss how to end fossil fuel extraction from public lands.

The department, under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Acting Secretary Deb Haaland, is readying a rollback of Trump-era policies that brought energy independence to America. 

“Fossil fuel extraction on public lands accounts for nearly a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Multiple bills in Congress have been introduced in recent years to reform the program, including those to better ensure the public is not shut out of land management and leasing decisions; to address the mounting cleanup and remediation costs of orphan wells scattered across the country; and to provide a fair return to taxpayers for the use of their resources,” the department wrote in a press release on Tuesday.

The department specifically mentioned former President Donald Trump, saying “the Trump administration offered for lease more than 25 million acres of public land onshore and more than 78 million acres offshore for oil, gas and mineral development. While only 5.6 million onshore acres were purchased and 5 million offshore, this result clearly indicates that it is time for the Interior Department to take steps to better manage our public lands.”

The department continued in a political vein:

“The federal oil and gas program is not serving the American public well. It’s time to take a close look at how to best manage our nation’s natural resources with current and future generations in mind,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis. “This forum will help inform the Department’s near-term actions to restore balance on America’s lands and waters and to put our public lands’ energy programs on a more sound and sustainable conservation, fiscal and climate footing.”   

Davis returned to the department after serving the past four years at the National Wildlife Federation. Earlier, she had served as Chief of Staff to Interior Secretaries Sally Jewell and Ken Salazar in the Obama administration.

The information gathered at the forum, which will be livestreamed, will “help inform an interim report from the Department that will be completed in early summer. The report will include initial findings on the state of the federal conventional energy programs, as well as outline next steps and recommendations for the Department and Congress to improve stewardship of public lands and waters, create jobs, and build a just and equitable energy future. “

The Interior Department said it is conducting outreach to Members of Congress, Governors, Tribes, and other state and local elected leaders. Members of the public will be able to offer written comments to inform the interim report. Details on how to view the forum or submit comments will be forthcoming, the department said.


  1. I’ve always found it odd how only fossil fuels extracted from the US pollute and cause climate change. Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and other areas never get mentioned or have any kind of political pressure. 100% reliance on importation of petroleum for the US, what could go wrong? I guess here in Alaska we can make up the difference by making solar panels and windmills.

  2. I liked to see these North American Indigenous activists sell their homes and their cars and go live in a teepee, sod house, dug out house, wigwam house, birch house, cabin. They can buy a home only for its land tearing down the old home to build the structures of the indigenous people who used the materials of the area.
    Cause this simple mind of mind sees that IS what indigenous enviornmental activists should be doing. Alaska Native Heritage Center already possess the blue prints for how to build an Alaskan indigenous home demonstrated by those dwellings.

    I know what is going on people like Holland want everyone else poor so she doesnt have to lose her luxury living only increase it. How did her people live? An Adobe rock/sand structure? She should tear down her nice American home and live in an Adobe rock structure with no electricity, wifi, no running water, no gas and oil, and no car. Totally Emission Free living!

    • The goal of all of this, Jen, is to develop better ways of producing energy which neither require a reduction in our standard of living, nor which create global warming.

      It’s an inconvenient fact that the burning of hydrocarbons damages the entire planet, and unfortunately we allowed the technology to scale up before this was understood. But that’s the way it is, and now we need to do all that we can to find a way out of the dilemma.

      Sticking your head in the sand might be OK for your generation, but what about those that follow?

      The dogmas of the quiet past are indeed inadequate for the stormy present.

      • One day we will reach the next great technological breakthrough, but it will come through the private sector, not government. Recall history about how the livery stable tried to prevent the automobile (in St Louis, I believe, to drive a car someone had to walk ahead to announce your presence). Hydrocarbons come from the Earth and will return there. Our using them only acts as an intermediary. Thankfully the Earth has been warming for 10,000 years and will continue to do so for a while. The arrogance of some to think that we significantly impact it is incredible, but if true we can apply the technology and live in shirtsleeves and hope that the Earth does not fall into another ice age like 500 years ago.

  3. Make everything solar or electric…no problem. Although the minerals needed to make the high power batteries are rare and expensive and only found in the ground………so what we are saying is no drilling for oil but mining for minerals is good????? Works for me let’s put Alaska back on top by leading the way in safe mining operations, it’s kind of what we do.

  4. You forget, the mindset is that batteries grow on trees. Electricity comes from your walls and ceilings, material for your clothing comes from the store, and food comes from the grocery store shelves.

  5. Why doesn’t someone forcefully inform these people that they serve us! What ever happened to the concept of ‘public servant?’

    • Do you mean like where 70% of the general population favor Biden’s rescue package, yet exactly zero GOP Senators vote in favor of it?

      Most legislators are much more about fighting the eternal Red v Blue war and remaining in office than they are about actually helping those that elected them.

      • The statistics that I have read showed that most people (57%) oppose the bill as written because over 90% of the spending is non-COVID related. But there is always the Huffington Post (which I do read). Natural law says that things must either be produced or stolen. Reality is harsh sometimes but trying to break reality is harsher.

  6. Many states are being proactive and sueing the Biden administration. I’ve emailed the governor many times about joining these states that are sticking up for themselves to no avail. He’s still the governor right?

    • His action filing a separate appeal to the USACE on behalf of the Pebble project was STRONG action. He picks his spots where he can make a difference. He’s not perfect, but he’s smart, reasonable and compassionate

  7. How is this good for Alaska? I watched Murkowski saying Haaland will live up to her word and help Alaska’s oil and gas development, is Murkowski flipping nuts? I’m taken aback by all this, totally unbelievable!! I don’t know what to say

  8. And I believe Murkowski voted for her confirmation. That woman claims to be a Republican but she’s basically a NRDC puppet.

    Pebble is a safe and necessary project needed for Alaska and our national security. These people would rather leave a treeless spot out 100 miles from Bristol bay “undisturbed” and as a result have our grandkids be dependent on China (where minerals are mined in a much more globally polluting manner) and have the economic prosperity transferred to hostile countries.

  9. Thanks Suzanne for getting news of the DOI forum out to Alaskans.
    If Alaskans are not Paranoid now they have not been paying attention.

    Hang on tight, running on empty will be a lot like subsistencing.

  10. Here is Haaland’s quote:”If I had my way, it’d be great to stop all gas and oil leasing on federal and public lands.” Did Sen Murkowski know about this quote? If she did and then voted Haaland out of committee, then she has taken Alaska down, to include the AK Native community.

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