The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is hailing the increase in oil and gas lease sales in 2017, making it the most lucrative year in almost a decade.
State offices for the agency generated $360 million in lease sales, an increase of 86 percent over the previous year.
“Oil and gas lease sales on public land directly support domestic energy production and the president’s energy dominance and job growth priorities for America,” David Bernhardt, deputy secretary of Interior, said in the press release announcing the data. “[Last year] was a big year for oil and gas leasing on federal lands, and these sales provide critical revenue and job growth in rural America.”
Bernhardt also said the sales reflect President Donald Trump’s deregulation agenda “to identify and modify unnecessary regulations that impede responsible energy development.”
Brian Steed, BLM deputy director for policy and programs, said the Trump administration’s energy policy is good for the country and Americans.
“We remain committed to an era of American energy dominance through our multiple-use mission that ensures opportunities for commercial, recreational, and conservation activities on healthy and productive public lands,” Steed said.
The lease sales totaled 949 parcels, covering 792,823 acres, according to BLM, which released the data in December.
The revenue from lease sales is split between the states where they occur and the federal government, according to BLM. If a lease sale results in oil and gas production, revenues from royalties are also shared with the state.
The increased oil and gas lease sales are part of Trump’s America First agenda, the agency said.
“The BLM is a key contributor to the Trump Administration’s America First Energy Plan, which is an all-of-the-above plan that includes oil and gas, coal, strategic minerals, and renewable sources such as wind, geothermal, and solar – all of which can be developed on public lands,” the press release said.
“In fiscal year 2016, oil and gas development on BLM-managed lands supported 201,000 jobs nationwide and contributed more than $42 billion in output to the U.S. economy.”
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that the Energy Information Administration announced that in November the U.S. produced more than 10,000 barrels of oil a day, the highest production number since 1970.
Bloomberg noted that the record oil production also beat expectations by several months as to when those numbers would be reached, based on the Trump administration’s efforts to unleash domestic energy production. The agency had predicted the 10,000 figure would be reached in February.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter