BLM to cancel 25 Thompson Divide leases, add stipulations for others

The US Bureau of Land Management will cancel 25 federal oil and gas leases in western Colorado’s Thompson Divide area, add stipulations and conditions for others that are not producing, and make no or minor adjustments to leases that are producing under a Nov. 17 record of decision. The action adds appropriate environmental provisions to disputed leases in the White River National Forest that were issued from 1995 to 2004, the US Department of the Interior said.

It said the 65 leases primarily were in the national forest, which is a major outdoor recreation area and home to several of the state’s most popular fisheries. BLM developed a draft environmental impact statement analyzing the leases after DOI’s Board of Land Appeals found defects in 2007 (OGJ Online, Nov. 20, 2015).

The 25 canceled leases, none of which are producing, amount to less than 0.5% of production from federally administered land in Colorado, DOI said. “Meanwhile, the vast majority of the lands in the Thompson Divide area are used for agriculture, sporting, recreation, or are simply undeveloped open space,” it added.

BLM also issued a record of decision (ROD) fully adopting the terms of the 2014 settlement agreement resolving litigation surrounding the Roan Plateau Resource Management Plan. The action represents the final step in the landmark settlement announced almost 2 years ago that brought together local, state, industry, sportsmen, and conservation leaders, the agency said.

In addition to these decisions, BLM also announced that it had formally adopted the 2014 White River National Forest oil and gas final EIS and concurs with the selected alternative in the 2015 ROD. The EIS governs leasing on the White River National Forest generally and identifies areas that are open or closed to oil and gas leasing, it said.

The actions in Colorado came a day after BLM canceled 15 undrilled federal leases from the 1980s held by Devon Energy Corp. in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in northwestern Montana near the Blackfeet Indian reservation (OGJ Online, Nov. 17, 2016).

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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