Let me begin by saying that the leasing and development of domestic oil and gas resources on public lands is important to our nation for the economic well-being as well as for our national security.
There's a lot of safeguards already in place to limit impacts from oil and gas development on these public lands but at the same time we can do much more.
For the Bureau of Land Management, the reform actions that we're proposing to take will ensure that there is more public involvement early in the decision process, and by that I mean in the leasing process, to help us determine what public lands are appropriate for leasing, before we commit such parcels for development.
Right now over 50 percent of the parcels that we're offering up for lease are protested. And by going through this process engaging the public earlier, prior to committing these resources, we believe that it will reduce the number of protests that we are receiving at this point in time and that it will allow those parcels that we will be leasing to be developed with less numbers of concerns and protests on the part of the public.
So I think as we move forward with implementing these actions, the oil and gas industry, the more familiar they get with the process and the understanding that they will gain over time is that there is a benefit to them and that they will understand and recognize that we truly believe that oil and gas resources on public lands, that are where it's appropriate for leasing, will continue to be leased and where there's reserves underneath those leases that they can be developed.
We can all benefit from the advice and council from the public; we can all benefit from the advice and council of all of our resource specialists. And if we take into account a balanced approach for determining which parcels of land should be offered for lease versus those that should be protected and managed for other higher priority needs then I think we better serve the American public.