Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
    Proposal to Lease Public Land in New Mexico’s Permian Basin for Oil and Gas Exploration

    Federal land managers have announced a proposal to lease public land in southeast New Mexico’s Permian Basin region to the oil and gas industry. The auction is scheduled for the second quarter of 2024 and will include 27 parcels on 6,282 acres of land. Most of the land being offered is in New Mexico, with 3,112 acres in Eddy County and 1,280 acres in Lea County. Additionally, there are 359 acres in Chaves County and 1,572 acres in Cheyenne County, Kansas.

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking feedback during a 30-day public scoping period, which ends on September 20. The agency will use the comments received to draft an environmental analysis for the leased land and expected drilling activity on the parcels. However, it’s important to note that drilling on the leased lands would require an approved application from the BLM.

    The BLM is also planning a lease sale on November 30 for public lands in New Mexico and Oklahoma. This sale would offer leases on 12 parcels of federal land totaling about 596 acres. The BLM’s published environmental analysis states that oil and gas operations on the public lands would have “no significant impact.”

    In addition to providing public land for oil and gas extraction, the BLM is in the process of reforming how it regulates extraction operations. The agency is seeking to codify provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act into its rules, which would increase the rates and fees operators pay to operate on public land. The new rules would also target areas with existing extraction infrastructure and raise minimum bids and rental rates.

    While the leasing of public lands for oil and gas extraction provides economic opportunities, there are concerns about the over-reliance on fossil fuels. Environmental groups argue that too much land is being used for fossil fuel extraction, hindering efforts to transition to cleaner forms of energy. A recent study focused on the Permian Basin warns of the economic risks associated with a singular focus on oil and gas and highlights the need for economic diversification in oilfield communities.

    It is important for local stakeholders and the federal government to work together to find solutions that balance economic growth with environmental conservation and the long-term well-being of communities reliant on the oil and gas industry.

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