Seeking to build on the momentum from the Obama administration’s decision to oppose the Keystone XL oil pipeline, environmental groups on Monday sought to intervene and cancel an oil and gas lease sale in Colorado scheduled for Thursday by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
BLM, however, told NGI’s Shale Daily that the proposed sale involving almost 90,000 acres in central-eastern parts of the state would move forward.
A Colorado BLM spokesperson said the upcoming lease sale was cleared when BLM accepted an environmental impact statement completed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for the vast majority of the acreage, including the Pawnee National Grassland in central-eastern Colorado.
The sale includes 121 parcels, 102 of which are under USFS lands and 19 parcels under BLM control. There are 89,537 acres in the total sale, 79,000 of which are under the USFS acreage. Oil, natural gas and all other mineral rights are included.
No existing oil and gas activity is underway on the acreage, but there is on adjacent privately held lands, according to the BLM spokesperson.
The groups protesting the lease sale said they were asking President Obama to intervene because Department of Interior officials "refuse to act to provide an honest accounting of the federal oil and gas program."
The environmental groups want the president to make "more brave decisions" when it comes to climate change, and in the case of the pending Colorado lease sale, "keep fossil fuels in the ground," said 350 Colorado’s Micah Parkin.
The groups contended in the letter that there is a "disconnect" between the administration's climate goals and an "all-of-the-above" energy policy.
"Federal leasing of publicly owned fossil fuels contributes significantly to U.S. and global greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions," said the letter, which was sent by 11 organizations, including Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians.
"President Obama cannot claim climate leadership while continuing to lease fossil fuels," Friends of the Earth spokeswoman Marissa Knodel said.
In September 400 organizations and leaders that are part of a campaign called "Keep It in the Ground" delivered a letter to the president urging an end to federal leasing, claiming it would keep up to 450 billion tons of GHG pollution in the ground.