BLM nets $1.2 million from sale of gas leases
The Bureau of Land Management on Thursday sold federal oil and gas leases on 63,268 acres in northwest Colorado, bringing in $1,243,777 in revenues.
The agency had offered 85 parcels in Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties, but received bids on 70 parcels. Most of the parcels that went unsold were in Routt County.
Winning bid amounts ranged from the minimum allowable bid of $2 an acre on a number of parcels, to $102 per acre for a Rio Blanco County parcel sold to Baseline Minerals, Inc., a Denver company providing land services to oil and gas companies. Those companies often use brokers to acquire leases on their behalf.
Sale revenues will be split between the federal government and state of Colorado.
The sale, while sizable, initially was to have involved more than 100,000 acres. But the BLM removed parcels covering some 27,500 acres in Grand County just west of Rocky Mountain National Park after local concerns arose about potential impacts to tourism/recreation, agriculture and the environment. The BLM also cited low energy potential and reduced industry interest in that area, which has seen little drilling activity.
The conservation group WildEarth Guardians had pushed to get the Grand County acreage dropped from the sale, but also objected to the sale more generally, saying the BLM failed to account for the climate implications of oil and gas development. The group on Thursday said that the acreage offered included land in the scenic North Park just upstream of Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, as well as along the Yampa River and its headwaters in Moffat and Routt counties, and along the White River in Rio Blanco County.
“President Trump is sadly pulling out all the stops to put our public lands into the hands of the oil and gas industry,” Jeremy Nichols of WildEarth Guardians said in a new release. “Not only are we losing landscapes, we’re losing wildlife habitat, our ability to secure a clean energy future, and our means of safeguarding the climate.”
In a news release, the BLM said the sale was consistent with the administration’s goals of promoting America’s energy independence.
“The BLM’s policy is to promote oil and gas development if it meets the guidelines and regulations set forth by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and other subsequent laws and policies passed by the U.S. Congress. The sales are also in keeping with the administration’s America First Energy Plan, which includes development of fossil fuels and coal, as well as renewable energy,” the agency said.