Interest was not as low as the last time the BLM offered leases in its West Desert district. That August 2013 sale attracted no bids on any of 35 parcels in Tooele County.
The feds, meanwhile, have proposed leasing 69 parcels covering 72,236 acres, mostly in energy-rich Uintah and Carbon counties, at its next quarterly lease sale Nov. 18. Likely to generate more interest than any other this year, this sale involves leases in the Uinta Basin and around Helper and East Carbon.
The oil and gas industry is unhappy the BLM is not offering more acreage at this sale. Fewer than half the parcels nominated by the industry in Uintah, Duchesne, Emery and Carbon counties made the sale list, the Western Energy Alliance complained.
For example, of 60 parcels managed by the Price field office, the BLM withheld all or part of 17 due to conflicts with coal resources. All or part of another 34 because they overlap with sage grouse habitat.
"Our members continue to be harmed by these indeterminate delays and deferrals," the energy trade group wrote in comments for the sale's environmental assessment.
Environmentalists object that some parcels being sold Nov. 18 have possible impacts on riparian areas, cultural resources and sensitive species.
They also chide industry for nominating so many parcels that are poor candidates for development, citing the failure of many parcels to get the $2-an-acre minimum bid.