The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made its largest lease sale in four years, marking the start of President Donald Trump’s plans to expand drilling on federal lands.
BLM sold drilling rights on 278 parcels of public land for $129.3 million. Bids ranged from $2 per acre to $16,500 per acre. The land sold was mostly located in Wyoming — about half of which is directly controlled by the federal government.
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“In the first lease sale under the Trump administration, the BLM had its biggest sale in the past four years,” Utah Republican Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Today’s successful sale in part is a recognition that the BLM under new leadership will prioritize fulfilling its statutory mandate of multiple-use land management and the holding of quarterly lease sales, and the industry is responding accordingly.”
Thursday’s lease sale is one of four BLM has planned for this year.
“This is an encouraging indication that we are headed in a new and better direction for the Bureau and Americans who benefit from greater access to these taxpayer-owned resources,” Bishop said.
Congress wants to rollback energy regulations for pubic lands. Lawmakers have already used the Congressional Review Act to repeal Obama-era regulations on coal mining and are looking to eliminate a regulation on flaring natural gas. Congress also wants to repeal a BLM rule, called “Planning 2.0,” which critics say seizes power from local officials and makes energy development more difficult.
Rolling back federal restrictions on public lands would create 2.7 million jobs and add $663 billion to the economy each year for the next 30 years, according to a 2016 study by Louisiana State University and the free-market Institute for Energy Research.
Opening these lands and waters could boost wages by $5.1 trillion, generating $3.9 trillion in new federal tax revenue over the next 37 years according to the research. Increased energy development could create 2.7 million new jobs.