Log In

Reset Password

Letter to the Editor BLM misleads on oil and gas leases

In an August 18 article, the Journal reported "BLM field manager. explained that the act of leasing does not autho­rize any development or use of the surface of lease lands, without further application by the operator and approval by the BLM."

"There are several steps in the process," she said. "A suc­cessful bidder of a lease must submit an application for a permit to drill (APD), then it goes through more environ­mental reviews and a public process again."

What is very misleading is the statement that "the act of leasing does not authorize any development."

The issuance of a federal oil and gas lease gives the lessee the legal right to develop as much of the surface of that lease as they reasonably need to produce the lease. From a practical standpoint the permit to drill only spells out where that development will take place. While the BLM may move proposed well locations around (within limits), the agency loses discretion to bar all oil and gas development on the surface of those lands once the lease is issued. The only exception is in very rare cases when a Lease is offered/issued with a total no-surface occupancy stipulation.

Lacking this exceptional stipulation, a federal oil and gas lease does give the lessee the legal right to develop the surface of that lease. The environmental reviews that occur after a lease is issued are necessarily limited in scope, as BLM must authorize the development.

The Journal article also states that "six parcels totaling 5,632 acres of public mineral estate" will be offered in a February 2016 lease sale. When I followed the link provided in the Journal article , it took me to a BLM website stating that comments must be received by June 10, 2015 for a proposal to lease 10 parcels containing 9512.33 acres of Federal lands in the State of Colorado." Is anyone at BLM responsible for checking this information, including the accuracy of the links and websites (are the parcel legal descriptions current, the dates are not) before they release them to the public?

Robert Ball