The Bureau of Land Management Eastern States (BLM-ES) is preparing for an online oil and gas lease sale on March 23, 2017. The online auction will begin at 8 a.m. on the EnergyNet site (www.EnergyNet.com). Each parcel will have its own unique open bidding period. The bidding process itself is expected to last a total of three hours.
The BLM list of parcels for this sale includes 21 parcels (approximately 1,186 acres) located in the Marietta Unit of the Wayne National Forest, Ohio. The Notice of Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale, March 23, 2017 is accessible at the BLM-ES website: https://www.blm.gov/programs/energy-and-minerals/oil-and-gas/leasing/regional-lease-sales/eastern-states.
The posting of the competitive lease sale initiates a 30-day protest period of the proposed lease parcels. Protests must be delivered in hard copy via postal service or fax; protests may not be e-mailed or hand-delivered.
The BLM received consent from the U.S. Forest Service to offer these parcels, a decision which is in accordance with the Wayne National Forest 2006 revised Land and Resource Management Plan, and the forest’s 2012 Supplemental Information Report. Additionally, resource specialists in the BLM Northeastern States District completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) for Oil and Gas Leasing, Wayne National Forest, Marietta Unit of the Athens Ranger District. During that process, public meetings were held in Marietta, Athens and Ironton, Ohio; and approximately 14,000 submissions were received during the 30-day comment period. The BLM extensively revised and updated the draft EA after careful consideration of public input, and the final EA was released October 13, 2016.
The March 23, 2017 lease sale will not authorize the successful bidders to develop their leases; rather, they are purchasing a lease which allows them to develop the parcel within ten years of the sale date. Because the sale action does not authorize drilling, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was released concurrently with the final EA. More information about the parcels, including maps and the EA can be found on BLM’s e-Planning website: http://go.usa.gov/xKHr4. Although the lease holder will need further authorization before developing or drilling a well, the leases do contain stipulations that are tailored to the specific situation of each parcel. Those stipulations are intended to mitigate risks to the environment due to ground disturbance, including for example risks due to: the possibility of soil erosion during construction activities; disruption to habitat for sensitive, threatened and endangered species; the detriment of authorized recreational use; or the impairment of archeological research.
Before any ground-disturbing activity may begin on the parcels to be leased in March, operators must first submit an Application for Permit to Drill (APD) to the BLM-ES. At that time, the BLM will initiate a site-specific environmental analysis in partnership with the Wayne National Forest to determine the feasibility of the proposed drilling plan. Concurrently, the State of Ohio Department of Natural Resources will evaluate the APD to determine whether proposed operations will pose any risks to groundwater.
The Federal government’s onshore oil and gas program is managed by the BLM and Forest Service in order to facilitate safe and responsible energy development while providing a fair return for the American taxpayer. Working together, the BLM and Forest Service ensure safe and environmentally responsible energy production on public lands that will provide the nation’s energy needs into the future.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’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. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.