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Wed January 6, 2010
Interior department makes major changes to oil and gas leasing policy
By Bob Beck
Laramie, Wy – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is completely changing how oil and gas leases are handled on public lands. Salazar says too many leases are being litigated and he is setting a policy that would not lease public land where there could be negative impacts on the environment or wildlife. He says public land managers also will have new tasks that will determine if a piece of land is appropriate for development.
"they will also be conducting additional environmental analysis and engaging the public earlier and more frequently in the leasing process. They also will be conducting on the ground reviews of parcels that are being considered for auction."
Wyoming environmental groups are praising the change, butIndustry groups say the reforms will significantly harm the oil and gas industry. Bruce Hinchey of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming says it will slow development and cost the state jobs."You are practically shutting everything down in a state like Wyoming. Where half of the land acreage and two-thirds of the minerals are owned by the federal Government. And that means income and revenue and jobs to the industry and to the state. And it's going to really give our state a big problem in regards to revenue and the economy." Secretary Salazar says there should not be drilling everywhere and anywhere. He says there needs to be a balanced approach to development.