BLM selects specialists to evaluate deferred Utah leases

The US Bureau of Land Management named a 12-member multidisciplinary team from three federal agencies to evaluate 77 deferred oil and gas lease parcels in southeastern Utah.

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, July 22 -- The US Bureau of Land Management named a 12-member multidisciplinary team from three federal agencies to evaluate 77 deferred oil and gas lease parcels in southeastern Utah. The group does not include anyone involved in any previous decisions concerning the tracts, BLM said.

It includes James Haerter, BLM’s program lead for oil, gas, and energy, and eight other employees of the US Department of the Interior agency, along with two specialists from the National Park Service and one from the US Forest Service. The team’s findings are expected by late September, according to BLM.

Its Utah office originally auctioned the 77 parcels at a Dec. 19, 2008, lease sale. A federal district court enjoined their sale on Jan. 17 and US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered that they not be issued on Feb. 6.

“It’s essential that any future decisions on these parcels be based on solid science and a comprehensive evaluation process,” BLM Acting Director Mike Pool said. “No one wants to strengthen the integrity of BLM’s oil and gas lease sales more than BLM and this team’s role is integral in achieving that.”

BLM said the team will be asked to produce recommendations on whether the deferred parcels should be reoffered under the same conditions, reoffered under different terms, or be withdrawn. It added that the team also will review protests ledged against each of the parcels during the original lease sale’s protest period and will address those protests in its final recommendations.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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