More than 21,000 acres of federal lands in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas will be offered for oil and natural gas leasing by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wednesday, but leasing of acreage near proposed wilderness and national conservation areas has been deferred or removed until the agency receives guidance from Washington, DC.

The BLM plans to auction a total of 51 parcels, comprising 21,250.65 acres, for oil and gas leasing. The majority of the parcels (38) are in New Mexico and cover 17,090 acres. The second highest number of parcels (10) is in Oklahoma and covers 2,756 acres. Two parcels in Texas and one in Kansas will be auctioned.

BLM spokeswoman Donna Hummel said the BLM New Mexico office originally nominated 166 parcels for the auction, but 103 were deferred or removed from the sale due to environmental concerns.

Eight parcels, located in the San Juan Basin area, were deferred because the Hopi tribe in Arizona requested a tribal consultation with BLM to discuss its concerns about leasing the acreage, she said.

And four parcels in Las Cruces, NM, which are near wilderness and conservation areas, were deferred from the Wednesday auction pending the receipt of guidance from BLM’s minerals staff in Washington, according to Hummel.

Specifically Hummel said the BLM office in New Mexico “felt it was prudent” to seek guidance on what should be the “appropriate distance-buffer” between oil and gas development and the 359,000 of wilderness and national conservation areas in southern New Mexico that the state’s senators — Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall — have proposed.

Bingaman and Udall have introduced a bill called the “Organ Mountains — Desert Peaks Wilderness Act” that seeks to create wilderness and conservation areas in southern New Mexico, with particular focus on protection of the Organ Mountains, Potrillo Mountains and Robledo Mountains.

The oral auction will be held in Santa Fe, NM. Leases will be awarded for a period of 10 years, or as long thereafter as there is production in paying quantities. The federal government receives 12.5% royalties on production from the leases, while the state of New Mexico will receive 48% of the revenues.

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