At the same time, the data suggest that the public — including environmental groups — is more comfortable with the parcels BLM ultimately chooses to lease, a sign that fewer of those leases will be locked up in litigation.About 18 percent of the parcels BLM identified in original lease sale notices received protests, about level with the previous year but about half the rate of protests over the previous three years, according to BLM.
“Conflict has started disappearing under the leasing reforms,” according to the Western Values Project, a Bozeman, Mont.-based group that this morning posted an energy and public lands “dashboard” interpreting the BLM data. “This is likely because the reforms prioritize better upfront planning and engagement with the public and stakeholders.”
While the statistics can be spun any number of ways, there are significant external factors that dictate where oil and gas is produced in the United States, namely geology.
Production has shifted from federal to state and private lands in North Dakota and Texas in part because that is where the richest mineral plays are located, Adam Sieminski, administrator for the Energy Information Administration, told house lawmakers in August 2012 E&E Daily, Aug. 2, 2012. In addition, federal lands have traditionally been awash in natural gas, whose prices has sagged in recent years compared to oil, leading, presumably, to lower leasing interest.