(The Center Square) – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said Wednesday the agency is canceling oil and gas lease sales for the second quarter, drawing criticism from Wyoming’s governor.
The announcement marks the second quarter in a row that the agency, which manages energy development, recreation, grazing and conservation on 245 million federal acres, halted lease sales after President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January that included a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands.
The BLM cited the U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) ongoing review of the federal oil and gas leasing program for why the lease sales, which is required quarterly under the Mineral Leasing Act, aren’t being held.
“This decision does not impact existing operations or permits for valid, existing leases, which continue to be reviewed and approved,” the agency said.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon called the BLM announcement “disappointing, disheartening and not surprising.
“What is most disappointing is that the Department of Interior could have chosen to review the federal oil and gas leasing program while conducting quarterly sales,” Gordon added in a statement. “Instead they chose to tighten the financial choke of revenue that would normally flow to the state from lease sales, all the while refraining from consulting with the very states and communities that are directly impacted by these decisions.”
Wyoming filed a lawsuit last month over the lease moratorium. Meanwhile, 13 other states also filed suit in Louisiana.
States with significant oil and gas development say they have lost out on revenue under the lease moratorium.
Gordon said Wyoming brings in $35 million a year on average from the lease sales.
“This year, we have received zero, because the first and second quarter lease sales have been indefinitely postponed,” the Republican said.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW) and the Colorado-based trade group Western Energy Alliance are also challenging the executive order in court.
Taxpayers for Common Sense, which argues royalty rates on production are outdated, welcomed the BLM’s announcement.
“Holding more lease sales now would mean locking in these money-losing terms for developing federal resources,” said Autumn Hanna, the group’s vice president. “The better option is to let the review run its course, reform the oil and gas program by ditching outdated terms and updating rules, and fix the broken policies of the past.”