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BLM Postpones Second Oil, Gas Lease Sale

For the second time in less than a month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has postponed an oil and gas lease sale, this time for parcels in Arkansas and Michigan.

BLM Eastern States on Monday said it was rescheduling the oil and gas lease sale previously scheduled for Thursday (Dec. 10) to combine it with its next quarterly oil and gas lease sale on March 17. A formal notice of the March lease sale is to be published shortly, BLM said.

The rescheduled lease sales were for two parcels of 80 acres each in Arkansas and seven parcels totaling 427 acres in Michigan.

BLM's announcement comes just three weeks after the agency postponed a scheduled oil/natural gas lease sale in Utah to allow more time to accommodate what the agency called a high level of public interest (see Daily GPINov. 17). That lease sale was to include 39 parcels totaling more than 37,000 acres in the West Desert District, Green River District and Fishlake National Forest. BLM's Utah office said it expected to reschedule the sale, but no new date has been set. Environmental groups described the potential leases as representing an estimated 1.6-6.6 million tons of potential greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. They called on BLM to "keep it in the ground," echoing a rallying cry against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Seeking to build on the momentum from the Obama administration's decision to oppose the Keystone pipeline, environmental groups last month sought to intervene and cancel an oil and gas lease sale in Colorado (see Daily GPI, Nov. 11). BLM, however, held that sale as scheduled, involving almost 90,000 acres in central-eastern parts of the state.

BLM gave no reason for the postponement and did not respond to a request for comment. But environmental groups on Monday declared the most recent postponement a victory for their cause.

"Keeping fossil fuels in the ground has quickly become the new standard for climate leadership," said 350.org policy director Jason Kowalski. "The Obama administration clearly recognized that it couldn't present itself as a climate leader [at the international summit on climate change] in Paris if it was peddling fossil fuels at home." The environmental group had planned a demonstration by hundreds of its supporters outside the auction, he said.

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