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Lewisville Lake parcels removed from BLM gas lease auction

Local News, Notes and Events
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2016/3/4 21:40:00 (4133 reads)

Open in new windowBy Steve Southwell

The Bureau of Land Management has deferred the auction of a gas lease for Lewisville Lake from its April 20 auction, The Lewisville Texan Journal has learned.

The property falls partially within the city limits of Highland Village, Hickory Creek and Corinth. BLM does not have the authority to lease mineral rights from government land that falls within city limits.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers controls the surface use of that land as part of its Lewisville Lake project.

The National Forest Service had also withdrawn consent to lease 20 proposed parcels in Texas within Sabine National Forest, Sam Houston National Forest and Davy Crockett National Forest.

BLM spokeswoman Donna Hummel said that a deferral in this case, because of the legal issues with city limits means that the parcel will not be coming back in another auction without starting over.

“The entire parcel goes away,” she said. “We don’t just carve [the city limits] out, because that’s not how it was nominated.”

“A nominator could come back with another expression of interest for the 2017 lease sale, and it could carve out the city limits,” said Hummel. “It starts at square one.”

The gas company would have to start from scratch and identify the portions they would like to lease that are not within city limits, Hummel said.

She said that the new nomination would have to go through the lengthy process of having a public comment period, draft environmental analysis, and the rest of the steps that led to the current process.

“The public is better informed, thanks in part - and mainly to - the media,” she said. “The Corps of Engineers is better informed, city managers are better informed and BLM is better informed. Our expectation is we probably won’t see a nomination like this any time in the near future.“

The Center for Biodiversity, which protested all of the parcels offered for lease, wants the auction stopped altogether.

“It is irresponsible for BLM to proceed with any of these fossil fuel auctions while serious questions about fracking and its effect on the drinking water supply to millions of Texans remain unresolved,” said Wendy Park of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Park said it is senseless to allow “dangerous fracking techniques” beneath public drinking water supplies and put communities' health at risk.
“BLM should cancel the auction once and for all,” she said. “And, they should keep dangerous fracking chemicals out of our water and keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground.”

Rita Beving, outreach coordinator for North Texas Clean Water Fund, said her organization was happy that the Lewisville Lake parcel has been deferred.

"However the public must remain vigilant, as the portion of the Lewisville parcel that doesn't fall into a city's jurisdiction may once again come up for auction,” she said.

"Likewise, the 20 parcels that the Forest Service has withdrawn could be placed into this auction process again if the Forest Service gives their consent."

"It's a shame that the parcels under or near Lake Somerville, Lake Conroe and Choke Canyon Reservoirs are still part of this April 20 sale," Beving said. "These lakes are valuable drinking water sources for Brenham, Houston and Corpus Christi. It doesn't make sense to put these water supply lakes at risk or put people in harm's way should these dams become compromised because of additional drilling."

The Lewisville Texan Journal will keep an eye on future BLM lease auctions and keep citizens informed should any other Lewisville Lake leases be offered.

Map courtesy Center for Biodiversity with annotations by The Lewisville Texan Journal

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