The state of New Mexico led the way for a half dozen states across the West holding quarterly lease sales on Bureau of Land Management public lands over the last week. BLM New Mexico’s quarterly sale, held September 7, produced revenues of nearly $131 million for 61 parcels located in five counties in the Permian Basin, located in the southeast portion of the state.
A pair of environmental groups filed a lawsuit this week against the Bureau of Land Management, accusing the agency’s oil and gas lease sales in Nevada this past June of sidestepping environmental regulations and “surrendering public lands to oil companies.” The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sierra Club launched the suit Monday.
Three frontrunners have emerged as potential Trump administration picks to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 office based in Denver. Todd Parfitt, Patrick Davis, and Doug Benevento have been named by E&E News or confirmed by multiple industry sources to be under consideration for the top EPA job covering Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, and 27 Tribal Nations.
After an appeals court in Washington, D.C. blocked EPA’s efforts to delay an Obama-era methane rule, eight Senate Democrats sent a letter to EPA Administrator Pruitt demanding information on his plans to enforce EPA’s New Source Performance Standards for methane emissions from oil and gas sites on a “case by case” basis. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) joined Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on the letter. Udall and Bennet represent the 7th and 8th states in totally energy production, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Eliminating the permitting backlog facing the Department of Interior for oil and gas drilling is a top priority for Joseph Balash, nominated by Trump to help lead the land and minerals management office. More than 2,800 outstanding Applications for Permit to Drill (APD) remained in a January 31, 2017 survey of DOI records.
President Donald Trump declared North Dakota’s natural resource development in the Bakken oil fields an “energy miracle” during a speech on his administration’s tax cut plan. Trump made the visit with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who voted against the repeal of an Obama administration methane rule in May. Heitkamp faces a tough reelection campaign in 2018, and her appearance with the president in a state he won by 36 points could signal the senator’s acknowledgement that her vote against oil and gas—particularly in North Dakota—could endanger her political future.
Sierra Club’s 2017 ‘Cool Schools’ ranking of 227 participating colleges and universities found that none had yet achieved “complete sustainability” according to the environmental group. Self-reporting schools could earn up to 1,000 points across 62 categories, scoring points for sustainability programs, emissions monitoring, LEED certifications, locally sourced organic and fair trade food and beverages, electricity generation, multi-modal transportation options, and campus divestment.