Community groups say more transparency is needed early in leasing procedure
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Community groups in Colorado this week hailed the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to release the names of the entities who nominated the public lands in Western Colorado’s North Fork Valley for oil and gas drilling and fracking.
The agency’s decision is a win for the public and government transparency, said Jim Ramey, director of the Delta County community group Citizens for a Healthy Community.
“The BLM’s mission is to best manage public resources, not to promote an energy speculation and commodities trading industry. If drilling companies want to develop publicly-owned minerals they should say so publicly, allowing concerned citizens and affected communities to evaluate their health, safety, and environmental record,” Ramey said. Continue reading “Colorado: BLM releases North Fork oil and gas leasing info”→
State earned about $158 million from leases and royalties in 2012
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Even without auctioning off contested parcels near national park lands and in the North Fork Valley, the Bureau of Land Management’s Feb. 14 oil and gas leasing sale netted $2.1 million for 68,897 acres, including rentals and fees. The highest per-acre price was for a 80-acre parcel in Bent County was sold to Martin Oil and Gas, in Uniontown PA for $300 per acre.
Colorado’s share is 49 percent, with rest of the revenue going to the federal government. Royalties, rentals and bonus bid sales yielded more that $158 million for Colorado in 2012. According to the BLM, there are about 4.2 million acres of public mineral estate leased for oil and natural gas development, generating more than $6.5 billion in direct economic benefits in 2011, and approximately $9.5 billion in total economic impacts.
A lease is the first step for a company or individual before eventually applying to develop and produce oil and gas from the BLM-managed public mineral estate. Additional planning, site-specific environmental analysis and public input occurs before drilling begins.
SUMMIT COUNTY — In a ruling that could fundamentally shake up the way federal officials run leases for fossil fuel extraction on public lands, Senior District Judge Richard P. Matsch this week said the Bureau of Land Management must reveal the identity of companies nominating parcels for the leasing process.
Fossil fuel industry leaders said they hope the federal government will appeal the ruling to protect the integrity of the bidding process. Read the ruling here.
In the Feb. 13 decision, Matsch rejected the government’s position that revealing the names of the nominators would give competitors an unfair advantage. The judge emphasized that the identity of the nominators is important information for citizens seeking to comment on potential lease sales, based on the companies’ past environmental records.
Draft environmental study open for 60-day public comment period
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A draft environmental study for a new oil and gas leasing plan on the White River National Forest includes alternatives that cut the amount of land available from 416,000 acres to about 260,000 acres and outlines strict stipulations for drilling activities, especially in roadless areas, where no surface occupancy would be permitted.
The draft study is open for a 60-day comment period. After another round of input, Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams will choose from the options outlined in the draft for a final plan. The revision will have no impact on existing leases, Fitzwilliams said.
“A vital part of the planning process for this complex and controversial project is to gather public input. The DEIS lays out four alternatives for consideration, which were developed after analyzing public comments during initial outreach efforts,” said Fitzwilliams. “Now we are ready to listen to public comment again as we move into the next phase of this process.” Continue reading “Colorado: White River NF to update oil and gas leasing plan”→