Friday, August 12, 2016

Non-profit suing BLM over NM lease sales

The Western Energy Alliance filed a lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday, due to their failure to conduct an adequate number of oil and gas lease sales annually. The lawsuit cites the Mineral Leasing Act, which requires each state hold at least four land lease sales every year where eligible lands are available. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kimberly Brubeck said the BLM is aware of the lawsuit but is unable to comment on pending litigation. The Western Energy Alliance is a non-profit organization that represents around 300 companies in the oil and gas industry. Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at the Western Energy Alliance, said the Bureau of Land Management is often hampered by its own bureaucracy when planning sales. "In 2010, the Department (of the Interior) made leasing changes and those policies have resulted in leasing taking two years, where it used to be a matter of months," Sgamma said. Those changes were made to provide more opportunity for public comment and to improve the environmental screening process for available parcels. Only two oil and gas lease sales were held in New Mexico in Fiscal Year 2015 and only once during this fiscal year. Some were due to postponements, and others were due to a lack of expressions of interest...more

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