As the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) prepares to lease approximately 6,000 acres of public land to the oil and gas industry for mining operations next year, public comments on the sale are expected to be accepted until next week.
The BLM opened for public comments on Monday for its January 2021 rental sale and will accept comments until September 24.
The period is intended to solicit feedback from stakeholders and local organizations in order to inform the final decision-making regarding which packages to offer during the sale.
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The sale was scheduled for January 14, 2021.
On Wednesday, the sale offered 33 plots of land totaling approximately 6,442 acres in Eddy and Lea County, New Mexico and Wise County, Texas.
Records show that approximately 720 acres or 11 percent of the land offered in the sale was in Eddy County, while 5,223 acres or 81 percent of the land was offered in Lea County.
A single 500-acre parcel was offered in Wise County, Texas, accounting for about 8% of the sale.
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States that offer public land in sales receive 48 percent of the revenue from the sale, with the rest going to the US Treasury, according to a BLM press release.
States also receive half of the revenues generated when oil and gas are produced on the leased land.
“The BLM is a key contributor to the Trump administration’s America-First Energy Plan, a comprehensive strategy that includes oil and gas, coal, strategic minerals, and renewable sources such as wind, geothermal and solar power. solar. of which can be produced on public lands, ”a BLM statement read.
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BLM analysis finds ‘no significant impact’ of oil and gas on public lands
Through its environmental analysis (EA), the BLM indicated that it had concluded that the sale of the lease would not have a significant impact on air quality and emissions, greenhouse gases, water surface and underground or endangered species in the region such as the sagebrush lizard of the dunes or the small meadow. chicken.
The BLM estimated that the leases in Eddy and Lea counties would result in 32 horizontal wells and 144 acres of surface disturbance and about 5.4 million barrels of oil produced with about 31.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas. .
The EA noted that “extensive” oil and gas exploitation already exists in the region, contributing to its local economy.
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“In these counties, as well as in the area immediately surrounding the proposed lease plots, there is already considerable development and production of oil and gas,” the report read. “The development of oil and gas and its related industry identifies components of the region’s economic and social fabric.”
Although the report noted that the area already exceeded federal ozone standards under the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS), the analysis argued that the sinks were unlikely to be developed simultaneously or in the same year and spread out.
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“Additionally, the shows would be distributed spatially because the nominated leased plots would be located in two counties (Eddy and Lea),” the report read. “Thus, the proposed action is not expected to lead directly to further exceedances of the O3 NAAQS in Eddy County.”
The report also indicated that none of the nominated plots contained a residence and the nearest residence was approximately 0.01 thousand from the nominated parcels.
Some local pollutant levels experience short-term increases, read the report, for about 30 to 60 days.
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“Air quality depends not only on the amount of air pollutants, but also on environmental conditions (humidity, wind direction and speed, temperature) which influence the concentration and dispersion of pollutants,” the report states.
With regard to greenhouse gases, the estimated operations on the leased land would result in 35,688 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which represents an annual increase of 0.0055% in total greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse, according to the report, and an annual increase of 0.035% in new oil and gas emissions in Mexico.
The future development was expected to use about 998 acre feet of groundwater at about 50 acre feet per year for 20 years, an increase of 0.01 from the total water use of the BLM Pecos district of 620,416 acres, according to the report.
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Overall, the BLM determined that oil and gas activities on public land for lease would not significantly risk public health or safety, or unique geological features or cultural resources or the environment.
“Leasing of oil and gas, along with subsequent exploration and development, is a regular and ongoing activity in the region,” the report read.
“In addition, the regulatory program associated with these issues successfully resolves the negative effects of the primary concern and the authority of the BLM under standard terms and conditions allows the BLM to associate conditions of approval (which reduce or generally eliminate negative effects on resources) to activities. authorized at the time of lease development. “
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How to comment
Public comments on the upcoming sale will only be accepted online through the BLM’s website on its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) registry at https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning -ui / project / 2000535/510.
The sale documentation is also available online at https://www.blm.gov/programs/energy-and-minerals/oil-and-gas/leasing/regional-lease-sales/new-mexico.
Comments may call into question the accuracy of the information presented in BLM’s documentation and its environmental scan, as well as methodology or assumptions and present “reasonable alternatives” read the BLM’s announcement of the comment period.
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“Comments that contain only opinions or preferences, or comments that are essentially the same as other comments, will not be specifically addressed in the environmental review process,” the ad read.
Commentators can include personal information such as their address, phone number, and email, but the BLM cautioned that the information and the entire comment may be made public.
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, [email protected] or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.