BLM to offer thousands of acres of New Mexico land to oil and gas industry

Adrian Hedden
Carlsbad Current-Argus

New Mexico held the vast majority of federal public lands offered up to the oil and gas industry for drilling in an upcoming lease sale.

A 12-day public comment period was opened by the federal Bureau of Land Management for a three-state sale of public land leases to the oil and gas industry.

The BLM called for input on 79 parcels proposed on 19,277 acres in New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Parcels are nominated for the sales by oil and gas industry officials.

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Comments will be accepted from Monday to Sept. 9, read a BLM news release, for the sale scheduled “tentatively” for Feb. 6, 2020.

In Eddy County, 48 parcels were offered mostly in the northern part of the county around the Artesia area.

Eight more were offered in Sandoval, three in Lea and one in Rio Arriba County.

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Oklahoma’s parcels included 12 in Roger Mills County, two each in Kingfisher and Ellis counties, and one each in Canadian and Blaine counties.   

One parcel was offered in Cheyenne County, Kansas.

Concerned residents were given the opportunity to comment on the sale and its impact on the environment and public lands, along with compliance to federal law.

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“This scoping process is intended to solicit public input on relevant issues, potential impacts, and alternatives that the BLM should address in an environmental assessment to be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act,” the release read.

“The BLM will consider all substantive comments received during the public scoping period to ensure that the potential environmental consequences are analyzed in a manner that allows the BLM to make an informed decision about the proposed competitive lease sale.”

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The BLM justified the leasing of public land in the release by pointing to the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 and the Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands of 1947, which required the agency to “promote exploration and development of federal minerals.”

“Providing an opportunity for individuals and, or companies to lease identified federal mineral estate through a competitive lease sale process also meets the Department of the Interior’s goal of strengthening America’s energy independence,” the release read.

Comments are submitted online at BLM.gov.

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Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, achedden@currentargus.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.