Nevada oil & gas: Production still miniscule, but leasing is booming

If you don't have an oil well, get one
Still a rare site in Nevada - an oil well along U.S. Route 6 in Railroad Valley in the Tonopah Basin. (Wikimedia Commons)

Last week, the prospect of oil and gas drilling in the Ruby Mountains near Elko prompted alarms, particularly within the conservation community and among some politicians.

Meantime, other parts of Nevada are already hotbeds for oil and gas lease applications — if not oil & gas production.

Thursday E&E News, a publication well-known among people who work in and on energy and environmental issues, published a lengthy overview of oil and gas leasing by the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada.

“The Silver State is experiencing an oil and gas transformation, at least when it comes to leasing,” writes E&E reporter Ellen Gilmer. “The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management has put hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands on the auction block in recent years and is pushing to lease even more under the Trump administration’s ‘energy dominance’ agenda.”

Gilmer’s piece notes that oil and gas production in the state remains negligible, and industry and opponents alike are skeptical that significant production in Nevada will make economic sense any time soon.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen, because there’s not much oil and gas here anyway,” Patrick Donnelly, Nevada director of the Center for Biological Diversity told E&E. Public records requests filed by Donnelly’s organization led to Nevada learning that the U.S. Forest Service is proposing to allow drilling in the Ruby Mountains.

“But we don’t know what geopolitical factors will influence the price of oil,” Donnelly is quoted as saying in the story. “We want to be ready for when $200-a-barrel oil turns this into the gold rush.”

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing and reporting about Nevada policy and politics since 1997. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.


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