Two Bureau of Land Management (BLM) state offices are asking for public comments on roughly 31,000 acres that are part of oil and gas lease sales in four states, including New Mexico and North Dakota. 

The offices, operating in parallel, are asking for feedback on separate reviews of parcels that are proposed for auction. 

The BLM New Mexico State Office is taking comments on  its recently released environmental assessment analyzing approximately 10,000 acres (45 parcels) in a proposed competitive oil and gas lease sale in May, BLM said in a press release on Jan. 6. 

The BLM completed scoping in November, and the subsequent environmental analysis assesses the stipulations to be included in the lease agreement to protect natural resources. The proposed lease sale involves land in Cheyenne County, Kansas and Eddy, Lea and Chavez counties, New Mexico.

Public comments will only be accepted for 30 days until Feb. 6 and written electronically through the BLM land use planning and national environmental policy act register, which can be found on the BLM’s website. 

The BLM requests comments to be “practical and relevant to the proposed action” in the press release. Comments questioning methodology, assumptions and accuracy of information with proposed alternatives are encouraged, rather than comments containing opinions or preferences. 

In addition to the New Mexico environmental assessment, the BLM Montana-Dakotas State Office began a 30-day scoping period on Jan. 6 for public input on 20,951 acres (52 parcels) in eastern Montana and western North Dakota, a separate press release announced the same day.

The New Mexico office’s environmental assessment and the Montana-Dakotas office’s scoping period are both consistent with the Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Joe Biden in August 2022. According to the press releases, updated fiscal provisions in both lease sales include:

•    $10/acre minimum bids for all offered parcels, an increase from $2/acre minimum bids in 1987
•    16.67% royalty rates, compared to previous 12.5% minimum
•    $3/acre rental rate for the first two years; $5/acre for the next three to eight years; and $15/acre for the ninth and tenth year (compared to the 1987 prices set before the Inflation Reduction Act at $1.5/acre for the first five years and $2/acre for each year thereafter)

The BLM handles more than 245 million acres of public land in 12 states, including Alaska. In accordance with the Inflation Reduction Act, the BLM has updated its oil and gas programs through a series of instruction memoranda, which can be found on the BLM website.