DENVER – In response to the Department of the Interior’s announcement just before the holiday weekend that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will soon hold onshore oil and natural gas lease sales for 173 parcels on roughly 144,000 acres, Western Energy Alliance today issued the statement below attributable to President Kathleen Sgamma.
“While we’re glad to see BLM is finally going to announce a sale, the extreme reduction of acreage by 80%, after a year and a quarter without a single sale, is unwarranted and does nothing to show that the administration takes high energy prices seriously,” said Sgamma. “The sales being considered were the ones that had already been fully analyzed at the end of the Trump Administration and were ready to go before the Biden Administration decided to redo the analysis. Career employees at BLM, not political appointees, had done that analysis and determined it was protective. This administration has decided to make leasing and production a political football, and Americans are paying the price at the pump.
“Finally holding a sale after five quarters without a single one doesn’t erase the fact that BLM violated the law by not holding quarterly sales. We have a court hearing on May 13th and hope the judge will rule that indeed, BLM violated the law and needs to move forward with regular leasing. At the rate they’re going, there’s no indication there will be third quarter lease sale, as it appears they haven’t even started the analysis. We hope the judge will compel BLM to meet its legal obligations to hold quarterly lease sales and rule that bureaucratic foot-dragging is not an excuse.
“Raising the royalty rate 50 percent increases the costs of production on federal lands, which already carry a higher cost than nonfederal lands. This increased tax will have the effect of any other tax increase–you get less of what’s taxed, in this case, federal oil and natural gas. At a time when the administration should be increasing production, it continues to introduced new policies that further depress American production and keep gasoline prices high.”
According to Interior, agency staff analyzed 646 parcels on roughly 733,000 acres that was previously nominated for leasing by oil and natural gas companies, however only 173 parcels on roughly 144,000 acres, or 20 percent, will be available for auction. BLM assessed potentially available and eligible acreage in Alabama, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming, though the agency didn’t specify if each of these states are included in the final list of approved parcels.
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