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US oil, gas lease sale staged under protest

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 19, 2014 at 4:13 pm •  Published: July 19, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A U.S. Bureau of Land Management sale of oil and gas leases on public land in central Nevada has been conducted under protest.

Earlier this year, Lander County commissioners, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Yomba Shoshone Tribe and the Gandolfo Ranch filed protests over Thursday's sale in Reno. The sale also drew more than 30 protesters outside the office where it was staged, and it prompted last month's filing of a lawsuit seeking to block it by a rural Nevada group called Reese River Basin Citizens Against Fracking.

Opponents have expressed concern about the impact of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on the nation's most arid state and potential ground and surface water contamination associated with oil and gas exploration and development.

Oil and gas developers employ hydraulic fracturing to boost production. The technique pumps water, fine sand and chemicals into wells to fracture open oil- and gas-bearing rock deposits.

Bureau officials said fracking is a proven technology to safely develop Nevada's oil and gas. They are still reviewing the protests by the four parties and have 60 days to act, the officials added.

"According to our regulations, the sale can continue even with parcels under protest," Bureau of Land Management spokesman Chris Rose told The Associated Press. "The protests will be settled and appropriate action taken before any leases are issued."

Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said it was disappointing the agency did not resolve the protests before the sale.

"Aside from the fact we're opposed to fracking of any sort, there are also species concerns," he said. "(The sale) is going to have a big negative impact on sage grouse, on fish and on some rare plants."

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