A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Secretary Salazar Announces 2009 Oil and Gas Lease Sale Schedule
Stresses Balance of Traditional and Renewable Energy Resource Development on U.S. Public Lands
DENVER, CO – The Department of the Interior will hold more than 40 major lease sales for oil and natural gas development on public lands this year, which are predicted to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for American taxpayers as well as billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas to help meet the nation's energy needs, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said today.
Salazar is also establishing the development of renewable and alternative energy sources on U.S. public lands as a Departmental priority and as a component of a comprehensive national energy strategy that will help the U.S. reduce its dependence on foreign oil.
“Oil, natural gas, and coal will play an important role in meeting our nation's energy needs for many years to come,” Salazar said during a teleconference call with reporters from round the country. “But our long-term economic, environmental, and national security depends on our ability to lead the clean energy revolution. Our traditional energy resources are a bridge to our clean-energy economy of the future.”
Salazar will outline Interior's plan to help responsibly develop America's renewable and conventional energy resources in testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday.
The Secretary noted that the Bureau of Land Management has already held seven onshore oil and gas lease sales in the last seven weeks, offering 830 leases that cover almost 1.2 million acres in the West. And 326 of those leases, totaling 254,000 acres, were sold, generating more than $32 million in revenues for the American taxpayers. BLM will hold an additional 32 oil and gas lease sales for onshore public lands around the country this year.
Salazar said he would be joining a Minerals Management Service lease sale on Wednesday that could produce up to a billion barrels of oil and 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas -- a full year's supply of natural gas for America's homes. That Sale 208 will offer 6,458 blocks on the Outer Continental Shelf, covering 35 million acres in the Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area. This is the first of two Gulf of Mexico lease sales scheduled this year.
Wednesday's sale includes the “181 South Area” and revenue from these leases will be included in immediate revenue-sharing with the four Gulf-producing States of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The “181” area was opened for leasing in the Energy Security Act of 2006, which Salazar helped craft.
“I am particularly proud that thanks to a provision I authored in that legislation, 12.5 percent of the revenues will go directly to the Land and Water Conservation Fund stateside grant program to protect open space and build parks,” Salazar said. “It is America's first permanent conservation royalty of its kind, and I look forward to talking more about it and President Obama's vision for LWCF during my visit to the Gulf Coast.”
Emphasizing the need for clean-energy initiatives to balance our resource use, Salazar's first Secretarial Order, issued last week, prioritized renewable energy development on U.S. public lands. “Through that order, I have established a task force to help identify renewable energy zones on public lands that are best suited for harnessing wind, solar, and geothermal power,” Salazar said. “The task force will also help us get moving toward siting and building the national electric superhighway system that President Obama has established as a priority for the country.”
Salazar also noted that the U. S. Geological Survey is releasing a report on carbon capture and sequestration that can help identify the best geologic formations in the country for carbon sequestration. “Rather than emit carbon into the air, our country can and should move toward capturing carbon emissions and storing them underground,” Salazar noted. USGS was directed to do the study by a legislative provision Salazar wrote in 2007.
On Thursday, Salazar also will meet with the board of directors of the American Petroleum Institute, including the CEO's of America's largest oil companies. “My message to them will be simple: they are, and will remain, an important part of our energy future. We need to work together on common sense solutions to the energy challenges we face. We share much common ground. We need an open and honest dialogue. And we need to move forward, with common purpose, to build a comprehensive energy plan for America.”