Bureau of Land Management announces next steps, new analyses for upcoming oil and gas lease sales

Assessments will analyze greenhouse gas emissions, social cost of greenhouse gases

The Bureau Land Management today announced that state offices will issue draft environmental assessments over the coming days to solicit feedback from the public, Tribes, and state agencies regarding proposed oil and gas lease sales to be held in early 2022.

For the first time, the environmental assessments will analyze greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale and consider the social cost of greenhouse gases. The environmental assessments will also analyze impacts of potential energy development on air and water quality, wildlife habitat, the quality of life for nearby communities, and other factors.

“The BLM is committed to responsible development on public lands, including ensuring that our environmental reviews consider the climate impacts of energy development on lands and communities. We will continue to exercise the authority and discretion provided under law to conduct leasing in a manner that fulfills the Interior Department’s legal responsibilities,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning.

Environmental assessments for Colorado, Eastern States, Montana and the Dakotas, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming will be made available for public comment for 30 days. Each state office will distribute a news release and post to the state’s lease sale pages with instructions to access the assessments and to provide comment.

The BLM is also releasing a comprehensive analysis of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from coal, oil, and gas activities on public lands, titled, “2020 BLM Specialist Report on Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Trends from Coal, Oil, and Gas Exploration and Development on the Federal Mineral Estate,” which helped to inform the greenhouse gas analysis for the proposed lease sales. The Specialist Report uses long-term projections from the Energy Information Administration to analyze expected lifetime emissions from existing and potential new fossil fuel leases on BLM-managed lands.

The scoping period for the proposed sales ended on October 1. A number of nominated parcels were deferred from further consideration for reasons ranging from the need to prioritize leasing outside of priority habitat for Greater Sage-Grouse, to determining that there was insufficient environmental analysis in pre-existing supporting documents. Additional parcels may be deferred based on public comment on the draft environmental assessments.

The recently completed public scoping and preparations for planned lease sales in 2022 are consistent with the district court’s preliminary injunction, issued over the summer and pending appeal, which enjoins the Department’s implementation of Section 208 of Executive Order 14008. Parcels for scoping included those that were deferred in the first and second quarters of 2021.

This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

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