Vice Chairman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) questioned Michael Nedd, Deputy Director of Operations of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), during the House Committee on Natural Resources hearing on BLM's rationale for its drastic and unnecessary decision to limit oil and gas leasing in Colorado.

Last month, BLM announced its proposal to remove 1.6 million acres of federal land in Colorado from oil and gas leasing and cut the number of oil wells in Colorado by nearly 600. This rule may dissuade oil and gas companies from investing in Colorado in the future and greatly lessen the contributions to Land and Water Conservation Funds and local education and transportation programs that oil and gas royalties support.

“Colorado is the fourth largest producer of oil in the country, yet still finds a way to responsibly ensure a robust and healthy ecosystem for species like the sage grouse, elk, mule deer, and antelope. The growth of these populations has happened with oil and gas production nearby - there is no dichotomy,” said Vice Chairman Lamborn.

“I asked Mr. Nedd to explain why it is appropriate to hurt America and Colorado with this withdrawal given the positive benefits in wildlife in every sector, but he had no substantive answer. I look forward to following up with BLM and getting to the bottom of this poor excuse for this damaging decision.”

BLM Ruling Background:

Colorado is the fourth largest oil producer in the country, contributing to 340,000 jobs.

Oil and gas production on BLM land in Colorado generates an economic output of $2.3 billion per year.

The rule would close 80 percent of the lands managed by the Colorado River Valley Field Office and 81 percent of Grand Junction Field Office lands.

The rule would decrease the number of oil wells over the next twenty years by nearly 600 and would slash the Grand Junction Field Office jurisdiction by more than 50 percent of its current production level.

The rationale for this ruling is “avoiding leasing in areas of sensitive cultural wildlife and recreation resources,” specifically citing the sage grouse.

The sage grouse has experienced a 24 percent increase in its Colorado population since 2019.

Colorado's elk herd is the largest in the nation and has increased from 40,000 elk in the early 1900's to 300,000 today.

Colorado's mule deer population grew by 40,000 between 2013 and 2018.

Colorado's population of antelope have grown from 5,000 in the 1940s to 85,000 today.