Bishop, Chaffetz Blast Interior Dept. over Lease Sales

Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz call out the Interior Department for delaying a recent series of oil-and-gas lease sales in Utah, Arkansas, and Michigan, accusing the department of kowtowing to pressure from environmentalists.


Reports The Washington Times:

The Bureau of Land Management’s Dec. 7 decision to postpone lease sales of 507 acres in Arkansas and Michigan until March follows the delay of a 37,500-acre lease sale in Utah after protests by environmental activists.

“Both postponements appear to be precipitated by attempts by environmental groups to disrupt and burden the lawful activities of the BLM,” said the Wednesday letter to Interior Assistant Secretary Janice Schneider. “These latest postponements are troubling; particularly since the total number of new leases issued each year has fallen by 57% since 2008.”

The letter, signed by 15 House Republicans representing oil-and-gas-producing states, pointed out that under the Mineral Leasing Act, the BLM is required to hold oil-and-gas lease sales quarterly “for each state where eligible lands are available,” but that only Wyoming has done so over the past two years.

“This is a near universal failure by the BLM to uphold its statutory duties,” the letter said.

Signers, who asked Ms. Schneider to reply by Jan. 5, were led by House Natural Resources Committee chairman Rob Bishop and Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz.