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Sierra Club Conservation Policies

Onshore Oil and Gas

The Sierra Club believes that onshore oil and gas exploration and development should be conducted in a manner that protects environmental values. Wherever oil and gas activities might harm the environment, the Sierra Club recommends that:

  1. Federal land management agencies should use the environmental impact statement process (as required by the National Environmental Policy Act) in conjunction with the various agency land-use planning processes, to decide which public lands are best suited for leasing and which should be withheld. States should exercise their discretionary leasing authority on state lands only after similarly careful environmental review.
  2. No leasing, renewing of unworked leases, development facilities such as pipelines, or disruptive exploratory work such as drilling should be allowed in existing or potential conservation system units where these activities could lead to the destruction of the values the systems were designed to protect.
  3. Leasing, lease renewing, development facilities such as pipelines and disruptive exploratory work such as drilling should be banned in wilderness areas and wild and scenic river corridors. Leasing on the edge of these preserves with a ban on surface occupancy to allow directional drilling from outside the preserves would in some cases be acceptable.
  4. Leasing, lease renewing, development facilities such as pipelines and disruptive exploratory work such as drilling in environmentally sensitive areas outside conservation system units (important wildlife habitat, areas with unstable soils, etc.) should be carefully reviewed and forbidden if significant environmental damage is anticipated.
  5. In conservation system units and other environmentally sensitive areas where disruptive exploratory work such as drilling should not be allowed, but where leases without adequate protective stipulations have already been granted, government authorities should add protective stipulations, move the exploratory work to more acceptable locations, trade the leases, buy back such leases, or suspend them. Every lease should have a basic environmental protection stipulation requiring minimal disruption of wildlife habitat, revegetation, erosion-control measures, and protection of the quantity and quality of groundwater and surface water.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, November 10-12, 1978


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