BLM to remove some parcels from upcoming oil and gas lease auction
(BILLINGS, Mont.) – The Bureau of Land Management has removed some parcels in South Central Montana originally included in an upcoming March oil and gas lease sale in order to evaluate potential environmental impacts.
The BLM had proposed offering 109 parcels covering nearly 63,500 acres in an online auction to be held March 12 and 13. The scattered parcels stretch across Central Montana from the Canadian border to the Wyoming state line. The BLM has decided to defer the rights to explore for oil and gas on 26 parcels and on a portion of two additional parcels, totaling about 17,300 acres. These parcels are located near the city of Livingston, and in the foothills surrounding the Absaroka and Beartooth mountain ranges in Montana.
“Multiple use is about balance. I’ve always said there are places where it is appropriate to develop and where it’s not,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “This area certainly deserves more study, and appropriately we have decided to defer [these parcels].”
The BLM intends to review the current Resource Management Plans for the Butte Field Office and Billings Field Office. The staff will further evaluate how these plans provide the appropriate level of protection for parcels made available for oil and gas leases. This evaluation will inform whether the protection measures need to be updated, modified, or changed for the unique local conditions.
“We help put people to work, contribute to local economies, and help make America safe through energy independence by providing for responsible oil and gas development,” said Jon Raby, Acting State Director for the BLM’s Montana/Dakotas State Office. “We’re also good neighbors. When federal, state and local residents and elected officials expressed specific concerns, we listened.”
The remaining 83 parcels covering nearly 46,200 acres in Montana are being offered for oil and gas leasing through a competitive online auction. Information on the parcels including details on how to register in advance as a bidder is available at EnergyNet.com.
The BLM awards oil and gas leases for a period of 10 years, and for as long thereafter as there is production in paying quantities. The revenue from the sale of federal leases, as well as the 12.5 percent royalties collected from the production of those leases, is shared between the federal government and the states.
Potential environmental effects that could result from exploration and development are analyzed before any parcels are made available for leasing. All leases come with conditions on oil and gas activities to protect the environment that can include limits on when drilling can occur or restrictions on surface occupancy.
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