The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Tuesday announced generating $49.197 million for leasing rights and rental fees on federal land parcels offered at BLM’s quarterly oil and gas lease auction in Cheyenne, WY. It was the largest dollar amount earned in a single sale in recent BLM history in the state, which has some unfinished lease business with the federal government.

On June 30 a federal judge in Wyoming ordered the Interior Department to decide on 47 long-pending oil/gas leases. At the time, U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal gave the federal agency 30 days to act (see Daily GPI, July 5). Freudenthal, the wife of the immediate past two-term governor of Wyoming, David Freudenthal, made it clear that her ruling was not ordering Interior to grant the leases, but to make a decision one way or the other.

On Tuesday a total of slightly more than 83,038 acres in 74 parcels were sold, the BLM said. This represents all of the acreage offered by the BLM in this sale. BLM said it has sold 764 parcels so far this year, generating more than $174 million in revenue for the federal Treasury.

In the latest auction, almost half of the bid and retail receipts will go to the state of Wyoming, BLM said. Bids ranged from the federally mandated minimum of $2/acre to a high bid of $4,500/acre, and successful bidders paid $145/parcel, one-time administrative fees and a yearly rental of $1.50/acre for the first five years the lease is effective, rising to $2/acre in years six through 10.

The Wyoming sale was the 18th that BLM has held so far this year, offering 830 parcels covering more than 605,000 acres in 2011. The next BLM sale is scheduled for Aug. 11 in Denver.

BLM said the national system of energy and mineral extraction on federal lands last fiscal year generated $40 billion in products, which the federal agency claims translated into approximately $103 billion for the U.S. economy.

BLM Director Bob Abbey dubbed Tuesday’s Wyoming sale a success, saying it demonstrates the Obama administration’s commitment to developing conventional and renewable resources on federal lands in what he called a “balanced and responsible” way. “Our leasing polices ensure environmental protection of important natural resources on BLM-managed lands, while at the same time aiding in orderly development of oil and natural gas deposits and reducing dependence on foreign oil.”

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