BLM EVALUATING OIL AND GAS LEASING PROPOSALS
LAKEWOOD, Colo The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public scoping comments on offering 23 parcels totaling approximately 13,792 acres of federal oil and gas leases on public lands managed by the Colorado River Valley, Grand Junction, Kremmling, Little Snake, Royal Gorge and White River field offices in the upcoming March 2019 competitive oil and gas lease sale.Before beginning an environmental analysis, the BLM wants to hear from the public about issues that should be considered. The public scoping period starts today, Oct. 1 and ends Oct. 16. Hearing from the public is critical in helping us evaluate the parcels and the most effective comments will address issues specific to the parcels being considered, said BLM Colorado State Director Greg Shoop. The parcels under consideration include 40 acres in the Colorado River Valley Field Office; 1,277 acres in the Grand Junction Field Office; 1,020 acres in the Kremmling Field Office; 2,555 acres in the Little Snake Field Office; 602 acres in the Royal Gorge Field Office; and 8,298 acres in the White River Field Office. Maps, parcel lists, lease stipulations, instructions for submitting comments and local contact information are available at https://go.usa.gov/xPB8s. Comments must be submitted through BLM e-planning website, https://go.usa.gov/xPB8s, and need to be received by October 16, 2018. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment including your personal identifying information may be made publicly available at any time.While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. The State of Colorado receives 49 percent of proceeds from each lease sale, with the remainder going to the U.S. government. In Fiscal Year 2016, Colorado received about $144 million from royalties, rentals and bonus bid payments for oil and gas development on public lands. Statewide, more than 22,900 jobs are tied to mineral and energy development on public lands.
Comments on Oil and Gas Sale relative to parcel 8423, Fremont County, Royal Gorge Field Office
October 7, 2018
On July 10, 2018, the Colorado State Office of the BLM nominated 47 parcels to be included in the upcoming lease sale. Those BLM nominations only come with specific input from the Field Offices. It is very suspicious that of all the public lands available on the side of a mountain range in Fremont County, the Royal Gorge Field Office chose to nominate this specific isolated parcel of 602.46 acres.
This parcel essentially covers the same area on which Zephyr Minerals has a block of 91 unpatented lode claims, an active drilling and exploration program and an application for a right-of-way to cross public lands in order to begin a very unpopular gold mine. It doesn’t take a Petroleum Engineer or Geologist to see that the area has absolutely no potential for oil and gas. There is no reason for this parcel to be nominated other than the possibility of collusion between someone at the Royal Gorge Field Office and Zephyr Minerals to allow Zephyr or an associate (whom one must assume would be the only bidder) easy access to their proposed drilling/mining site. Zephyr or associate, with lease in hand, can then go through the motions of filing for an APD so that there will be no need to file for and be granted a right-of-way across their leasehold to reach the “drilling site”. Once that access route has been built for the lease operations, it would then obviously be available as an existing road for Zephyr to utilize to access their proposed mining operations.
Zephyr’s need for an easier route to obtain an access easement is primarily because the surrounding private landowners will not give them permanent legal access. Their current right-of-way application to cross public lands involves an EA (Environmental Assessment (DOI-BLM-CO-F020-2018-0043-EA) that was poorly written and didn’t include a discussion of the indirect impacts of granting the easement. Numerous specific comments were received which the BLM is currently reviewing. If the comments regarding the lack of information and assessment are not adequately addressed in the upcoming decision, there will be an appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), all of which will hold up Zephyr’s right-of-way grant by at least six months. If the IBLA decides against the BLM, the easement will be on hold until they update their EA and address indirect impacts thereby increasing the delay even more. By having an oil and gas lease on the same property, Zephyr Mining or their associate will be able to file an APD, go through some bogus drilling activity and skip the easement acquisition process completely as no right-of -way across public lands is required for a lessee to build a road in order to cross their leased lands to reach a drilling site.
It is suggested that the BLM withdraw this parcel until such time as the agency or the DOI Inspector General look into whom specifically at the Royal Gorge Field Office made the nomination. Serious questions relative to collusion need to be asked of the Field Manager for the Royal Gorge Field Office about why this parcel was nominated and at which employee’s suggestion.