American Oil and Gas Reporter - October 2016 - 104

ConventionCoverage: Western Energy Alliance

Association Acknowledges
Victories And Setbacks
By Dan Larson
Special Correspondent

and gas operators faced as a part of business.
Sgamma reviewed the list of important
regulatory issues the Alliance engaged
over the past year, some of which have
been ongoing for years. Among the topics
were:
* A new lawsuit filed over federal
sage grouse rules;
* Intervention in watersheds litigation
in Idaho;
* Success in delaying a Bureau of
Land Management right-of-way rule from
becoming effective last year;
* Pending ozone nonattainment listings coupled with more stringent ozone
limits;
* An industry-supported study that
showed industry was responsible for only
half the level of emissions reported by
the Environmental Protection Agency;
* The successful outcome of the Alliance's lawsuit against the BLM's hydraulic fracturing rules;
* Cancellation of two dozen oil and
gas leases in the White River National
Forest in Colorado that Sgamma referred
to as "retroactive NEPA" and illegal;
* A White House order setting a new
impact mitigation standard and calling
for a net conservation benefit "for any
project that produces food, fuel or fiber;"
and
* The success of an industry coalition
that pushed the U.S. Department of Interior
into moving lease sales online and away

VAIL, CO.-Opposition to oil and gas
development remains as stubborn and
vocal as ever, according to industry leaders.
However, over the past year, industry
laid claim to several important victories
in the courtroom and on the regulatory
front, trade association leaders said.
At its annual convention, held Aug.
17-18 at Vail's Marriott Mountain Resort,
the Western Energy Alliance presented
an overview of legal victories and regulatory setbacks, the perspective of a state
attorney general leading the fight against
regulatory overreach, an insider's preview
of Colorado's proposed ballot initiatives,
and a discussion by a political organizer
on the importance of reaching Millennials
in today's polarized political landscape.
In a round-up of issues faced by the
Alliance over the past year, Vice President
of Government and Public Affairs Kathleen
Sgamma observed that the struggle against
an emboldened opposition and bureaucratic
inertia could be withering at times, but
"we keep our sense of humor."
To illustrate the point, Sgamma showed
a photo taken at the Alliance's offices
this summer of two stacks of three-ring
binders containing federal regulations issued or revised in the past year that stood
taller than she. The photo was staged,
she said, as a graphic representation of
the ever-increasing regulatory burden oil
TABLE 1

BLM Quarterly Lease Sales
2015
Q1

Colorado
Montana
New Mexico
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Texas
Utah
Wyoming




Q2



2016
Q3






Q4









Source: Western Energy Alliance from BLM data

104 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER

Q1



Q2







Q3






Q4

Outcome




5 of 8
3 of 8
3 of 8
5 of 8
2 of 8
1 of 8
4 of 8
7 of 8




from the public auctions that had become
a flashpoint for opposition.
Online Lease Sales
Public lease auctions of nominated
mineral acreage owned by the federal
government increasingly have become
forums for groups opposed to oil and gas
development, Sgamma noted, pointing
to reports of disruptive protests, venue
changes, and auction cancellations.
"Once President Obama denied the
Keystone XL Pipeline permit, these folks
needed something to do," she teased.
"Protesters and the 'keep it in the ground'
movement honed in on the public auctions
to build momentum for a moratorium on
any oil and gas leasing on public lands."
As a result, lease sales of federal lands
in eight Western states were postponed
or cancelled with increasing frequency,
she said (see Table 1).
"The Mineral Leasing Act requires
BLM to hold quarterly lease sales in
each state with oil and gas," Sgamma
stated. "Since 2010, BLM has considered
only certain parcels at certain times. This
bureaucratic inflexibility is causing BLM
to fail to meet its statutory obligations."
In August, the Alliance filed a lawsuit
challenging BLM's decision to cancel
required lease sales. Within three weeks,
Sgamma related, BLM announced it
would begin conducting online lease sales
as a means of "increasing program efficiency and generating savings for taxpayers."
In addition to relieving the pressure
on BLM staff to host events that draw
crowds of protesters, online auctions will
save the bureau money and likely bring
in additional bonus revenue from sales,
Sgamma predicted, adding, "The actual
sale will use technology that has been
around since eBay became popular."
Flaring And Methane
Sgamma also provided a preview of
the next expected lawsuit aimed at what
the Alliance refers to as regulatory overreach. The BLM is expected to issue its
final rules on natural gas venting and
flaring before the end of this year, and



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - October 2016

Contents
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