The following is a statement from Powder River Board member Bob LeResche on the Department of the Interior’s report on the federal oil and gas program, which was released on Friday.

“While we appreciate Interior’s intentions to reform the federal oil and gas program, we hoped they would suggest more specifics. We believe more sweeping change is needed for the people of Wyoming to receive their fair share from sale of these publicly owned resources. Federal royalty and lease rates are paltry, and the agency’s plan doesn’t raise them enough. The energy world is changing quickly, and time is running out for communities that have supported the oil and gas industry for decades; they should get their due before the inevitable decline.

“Bonding requirements, while somewhat improved, still will not adequately protect taxpayers from the burden of cleaning up orphan wells, which grow in number every year. Minimum per well bond amounts must be increased to match changes in technology, complexity and depth of modern wells, inflation, and risk of abandonment.  As they are writing these new standards, BLM should immediately adjust bonds when they reinstate high risk leases or extend applications for permits to drill.

“BLM should revise their leasing program to offer only areas of high potential for oil and gas production with access to existing oil and gas infrastructure, and avoid nominating or leasing low potential lands.

“To reduce the current rash of speculative leasing by hedge funds and other such entities, reforms must ensure that bidders, leaseholders and operators are publicly identified and financially and technically qualified to develop leases.”

– Bob LeResche, Powder River Board member from Clearmont, Wyoming