Monterey County seeks delay of leases for oil, gas exploration
excerpted from Monterey County Herald, June 10, 2009
Agency to auction off oil, gas on private land
By Larry Parsons
Just delay, baby, delay. That was the message from Monterey County supervisors to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over the pending auction of oil and gas exploration leases on about 35,000 acres in South County. The proposed lease sale, which is part of a 2007 management plan for BLM holdings on the Central Coast and in the Southern Diablo Mountain Range, is scheduled for June 23 in Sacramento. County supervisors voted unanimously Monday to ask the federal agency to hold off the lease sale for at least three months to give county planners time to weigh the possible impacts. Most of the proposed oil and gas leases are on private land for which the federal government owns the mineral rights. County planners said they only became aware of this month's scheduled lease sale on June 1. A three-month delay would allow "property owners, responsible agencies and other concerned parties time to understand and properly respond to the proposed lease sales," supervisors said in a letter sent to Jim Abbott, acting state director for the BLM. A BLM spokeswoman said Tuesday that Abbott has the authority to delay the sale and would weigh Monterey County's request very carefully. County planner John Ford said leases on private lands "raise some interesting questions we haven't had a chance to look into." Several groups, including the Ventana Wilderness Land Trust, Center for Biodiversity and Las Padres National Forest Association, joined the county in seeking to delay the lease sale. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, also has asked for the delay, said county Assistant Planning Director Carl Holm. This would be the first BLM oil and gas lease sale in at least a decade in Monterey County. And past ones have usually been for leases on publicly owned lands, Holm said...