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BLM Hopeful New Lease Process Minimizes Protests [AUDIO]

Michael Smith/Newsmakers

A new Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leasing process is in effect for the next auction of parcels with in the Casper field office area. It’s hoped the changes will minimize time consuming protests and litigation.

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Statewide there  have been over 1300 oil and gas parcels in some kind of litigation over last three years.

BLM Casper Field Office Manager, Joe Meyer, says those are purchased parcels, but with leases not issued because of some kind of protest on them. New rules in place this year hope to change that by offering more public input up front.

“They changed the process in that now we prepare an environmental assessment and give the public an opportunity to comment on the parcels being offered for lease before we sell them which is quite different from the old process.”

Meyer says the changes slow the process down at the front, but will hopefully keep things moving once the sale is complete.

“If you look at the history of leasing in Wyoming, and really throughout the west in the last three or four years,  almost every lease that has been issued has been litigated in some form or another.”

Public input early on, Myer says, is designed to allow concerns to be addressed up front.

Meyer says the comment period just ended for new parcels within the Casper field office to be auctioned in August.

He says they got very little input. Meyer suggests that’s because they have new a resource management plan.

“So I think the areas we tend to lease have already gone through a pretty intense public process and we tend to be leasing areas that don’t have the big  environmental concerns as were true under some of the older plans that haven’t looked at their leasing decisions for 30 years.”

About 30 new oil and gas parcels come up for auction within the Casper field office area this August.

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