Opposing views on Utah’s first master leasing plan from Bureau of Land Management

A new online mapping tool may help Utah's wildlife. Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management.

<p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Interior secretary Sally Jewell announced a new master leasing plan (MLP) in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for federal lands in Utah last Friday. According to</span> <a style=”text-decoration: none;” href=”http://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/103358-blm-sets-model-leasing-plan-in-utah-jewell-says-but-industry-wary”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Natural Gas Intelligence’s</span> <span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Shale Daily</span></a><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>, an industry news source, the goal of the plan is to adequately balance oil and natural gas development, while protecting iconic natural landscapes.</span> <a style=”text-decoration: none;” href=”http://www.moabsunnews.com/news/article_51fffd54-4751-11e5-b1eb-1b88537e8104.html”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Lands in the Moab area</span></a> <span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>were one of the regions they were most concerned with.</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>”Moab has some of the most iconic scenery on the Colorado Plateau, but it is also rich with energy resources, so we need to take a landscape-level approach to minimizing potential resource conflicts,” Jewell said. It’s the state of Utah’s first MLP and is meant to be a model to protect “world class environmental, cultural and recreational resources.”</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>The land is also of cultural significance to local Native Americans, which was one of the reasons for federal involvement. Unfortunately, moving into important lands like this is becoming increasingly necessary as the demand for natural resources continues to grow. It’s estimated that there are about</span> <a style=”text-decoration: none;” href=”http://www.dragonproductsltd.com/3-vital-tips-safely-setting-drill-rig-substructure/”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>53 years’ worth of oil production</span></a> <span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>in oil reserves globally currently.</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Jewell and BLM officials called the plan a result of “thoughtful planning and intensive analysis.”</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>As NGI has reported, however, the BLM has made great strides in increasing U.S. production of oil and natural gas. Through previous leasing programs, they were responsible for the production of 205 million bbls last year alone — an 81% increase from 2008. Overall, the BLM has leased or issued permits to oil/gas companies for more than 34 million acres.</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>There are those who oppose this additional layer of bureaucracy, however. Kathleen Sgamma is vice president of the Western Energy Alliance (WEA). She called it “another layer of NEPA [National Environmental Protection Act] analysis. It’s redundant; it’s unnecessary.”</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Only time and results will tell whether or not the plan is a success. Until then, industry experts and local community members will wait with bated breath to see how Utah’s first master leasing plan will fair.</span></p>

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