BLM lifts suspensions of 45 Montana oil and gas leases

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 30 -- The US Bureau of Land Management has lifted suspensions on 45 Montana oil and gas leases it issued in 2008, its Montana state office announced on Dec. 28. Suspensions will continue on six leases and be maintained in certain areas within two leases where the suspensions were lifted, it added.

The 53 leases were among 61 that were issued 2 years ago and suspended this past March as a result of an agreement settling a lawsuit involving parcels that the US Department of the Interior agency offered in Montana during four 2008 sales. The eight other leases were terminated.

BLM said that its Dec. 22 action affects 25,329 acres which were suspended, while another 6,667 acres will remain suspended, primarily to analyze sage grouse and Yellowstone cutthroat trout issues that will be analyzed in resource management plans that currently are being written. When those RMPs are completed, the suspensions will be reexamined, it indicated.

“I appreciate what BLM is doing. It’s trying to move forward,” David A. Galt, executive director of the Montana Petroleum Association in Helena, told OGJ by phone on Dec. 30. “But I’m waiting to see what the environmental organizations which were involved decide to do.”

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