A slew of oil and gas lease sales across the West have been postponed in recent weeks by the Bureau of Land Management. The quarterly auctions of public land for energy development have been postponed one-by-one in New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Colorado.
But the fate of Wyoming’s upcoming June 22 lease sale remains unknown. A spokesman for the BLM told the Star-Tribune on last Wednesday there were no updates on the status of the state’s lease sale. The agency plans to open 135 parcels totaling approximately 170,000 acres to bids.
“All of our actions, including comment periods and lease sales, are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis and adjustments are being made to ensure we are allowing for proper public input, while protecting the health and safety of the public and our employees,” the BLM spokesman said in a May statement shortly after New Mexico’s sale was postponed.
“Using an all-of-the-above approach to energy development, we are helping to meet our nation’s growing energy needs by facilitating development and letting free market forces work after the resource is extracted by companies who sell these commodities,” he added.
Environmental assessment comment periods for some of the state’s September lease sales have also been postponed.
Uncertainty has swirled around the longstanding practice of leasing federal minerals to energy companies this year. In addition to the BLM’s decision to delay several lease sales in neighboring states, federal courts in Idaho and Montana recently voided past sales in Wyoming as well as in Montana, Utah and Nevada.
Of Wyoming’s 62 million surface acres, 48 percent are considered federal public land. The BLM oversees the use of 18 million surface acres in Wyoming. During each quarterly lease sale, the federal government offers a selection of nominated parcels for leasing to energy companies.
The state usually reaps sizable financial returns for this development, receiving a portion of federal royalties, as well as approximately half of the money collected from federal lease sales. Last year, lease sales delivered $117 million to Wyoming’s coffers, much of which supports public services in rural communities.
Follow the latest on Wyoming’s energy industry @camillereports
The business news you need
With a weekly newsletter looking back at local history.