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Demonstrators Target BLM Colorado Office Seeking Lease Sale Ban

The national campaign to end oil/natural gas lease sales on federally managed public lands focused on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Lakewood, CO, on Thursday. Demonstrators were stationed outside the office for part of the morning in spring-like weather.

Calling themselves climate change activists, the 24 "Keep It in the Ground" campaign advocates chanted and carried signs outside the BLM office, calling for an end to new auctions of public lands to fossil fuel companies. A letter seeking this ban was delivered at the same time to regional BLM Director Ruth Welch.

Protesters referred to the scheduled quarterly sales as "climate auctions" that allow industry to sequester large swaths of public lands for drilling and fracking. They chose Thursday to protest since it was a day for which BLM had scheduled an auction but earlier in the month canceled it to allow more time to talk with Native American stakeholders in the area (see Daily GPIFeb. 5).

"We appreciate that today's demonstration was peaceful and that the organizers did not attempt to directly impact BLM employees or BLM operations," said a Denver-based BLM spokesperson.

Demonstrators spent about an hour and a half on site, according to BLM's spokesperson. "While we appreciate the input, we have no immediate plans to change oil and gas leasing in Colorado," he told NGI following the demonstration.

In less than a week, BLM's Colorado operations separately postponed one sale and announced that it was eyeing another.

On Monday, BLM said it is seeking public comments on a proposal to offer 18,349 acres in Garfield and Mesa counties in a competitive oil and natural gas lease sale later this year (see Daily GPIFeb. 9).

BLM is eyeing 20 parcels near DeBeque and four small parcels near Collbran for a proposed Nov. 10 sale. Comments are due by March 10. BLM wants public input prior to beginning an environmental assessment (EA). The EA will be released for public comment in May.

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