Environment / Nature

Bureau of Land Management makes over 700K acres available for leasing

Decision does not authorize any drilling for exploration or development of oil and gas resources, BLM said.

Information provided by the Bureau of Land Management.

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Record of Decision and Central Coast Field Office approved Resource Management Plan Amendment for Oil and Gas Leasing and Development makes approximately 680,000 acres of federal mineral estate available for leasing with controlled surface use stipulations, according to a recent press release. Areas include Fresno, Monterey and San Benito counties.

According to the release, the BLM’s decision also makes another roughly 42,000 acres available for leasing with no surface occupancy requirements, and closes an additional 47,500 acres of federal minerals to leasing and development, including designated wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, and national monuments.

“The plan supports recovery of threatened and endangered plants and animals in the Ciervo Panoche Natural Area by protecting core populations from surface disturbance,” the press release said.

The decision also authorizes the BLM to issue, with controlled surface use stipulations, 14 previously litigated oil and gas leases in Monterey and San Benito counties. The press release said the decision addresses the issues identified by the District Court in litigation and fulfills BLM’s commitment to a settlement agreement to prepare a more detailed environmental analysis of the potential impacts of oil and gas development.

It also states the BLM estimates that the oil and gas industry on private and public lands directly supports approximately 3,000 jobs and $620 million in tax revenue within the Central Coast office jurisdiction.

The decision does not authorize any drilling for exploration or development of oil and gas resources, according to the press release. Any future proposals for leasing or development would be subject to additional environmental review based on site-specific project information and other requirements for consultation, coordination and public involvement. The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 requires that the BLM hold quarterly lease sales when parcels are available, and to pay the state 50% of the generated royalties.

This decision supports Executive Order 13783: Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth and Secretarial Order 3349: American Energy Independence, the press release said. Issuance of the leases initiates a 30-day appeal period to the Interior Board of Land Appeals. More information about this planning effort and instructions for how to file an appeal is available online.


BenitoLink Staff