The federal Bureau of Land Management is working on issuing an oil and gas lease on property near Pocatello later this year.
The property is five parcels with 836 acres in all, about 50 miles east northeast of Pocatello in Bonneville County. It was supposed to be leased March 5 but was delayed due to a change in environmental regulations from a court case in California related to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” as it is commonly known, said Ken Frederick, a spokesman for BLM Idaho, which is responsible for 12 million acres in Idaho.
“We get an expression of interest from a company,” Frederick said. “We don’t go pick out areas we want to offer.” To make land available, the BLM discloses what the impacts of exploration would be under the National Environmental Policy Act, either through an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement, depending on whether the activity has the potential to cause significant environmental effects.
The BLM didn’t offer any leases in 2017. Five parcels were sold on May 28, 2015 and eight parcels were sold on July 27, 2016, for a total of 15,717 acres. In addition, two federal oil and gas leases are in place in southeastern Idaho, totaling 6,474 acres.
“We didn’t offer any because we didn’t have any lands that were available,” Frederick said. “We’re just not a big player. We don’t have the sedimentary rock formations that tell people there will be oil or gas.”
There are 568 oil and gas leases on state land in Idaho, according to Sharla Arledge, public information officer for the Idaho Department of Lands.