Rural Residents and Land Owners Call for Postponement of Arizona Oil and Gas Lease Sale

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Rural Residents and Land Owners Call for Postponement of Arizona Oil and Gas Lease Sale

Dear Mr. Suazo and members of the Safford BLM Office,

For the following reasons, we, the undersigned residents of rural northern Arizona, respectfully request that you postpone the oil and gas lease sale slated for September.

According to two "Determinations of NEPA Adequacy" published on BLM's website, the agency is planning to hold an oil and gas lease sale in September for 4200 acres of land near Petrified Forest National Monument and near the confluence of Silver Creek and the Little Colorado River near Woodruff. The BLM has decided to move forward with the lease sale absent any public notice, any public involvement, and without any analysis or disclosure of the potential harms that leasing and subsequent development could have on our groundwater, wildlife, air quality, public health or property values. Because leases would convey development rights to industry, the BLM must look at those impacts now, at the earliest possible time, before those rights are conveyed. Doing so later, when companies exercise those development rights with drilling proposals, would be too late.

Recent Arizona Department of Environmental Quality permitting for non-federal oil and gas development in our region shows that companies are targeting helium gas resources in the top of the Coconino Formation at about 950 ft. below ground. Companies are allowed to inject acid underground in order to fracture rock formations and access gas resources. This is the same depth, or immediately above, many wells in our region that are used for drinking water, agriculture and other uses. Importantly, the ADEQ does not require groundwater monitoring. Therefore, there is no way to know whether or how much acid and other fracking or drilling chemical are moving into that groundwater that we depend on. This large aquifer becoming polluted could affect potable water from Flagstaff eastward including the Native American Nations. Moreover, fracking, which can require millions of gallons of water, could deplete that groundwater. With few other water sources available, and in the face of a regional drought, groundwater contamination and depletion could harm people, businesses, and property values.

We are also concerned about the impacts of fracking industrialization on property values, public health, and our way of life. By conveying development rights to industry, BLM's leasing opens the door for industry to exercise those rights with subsequent drilling permits. Drilling and fracking, were it to occur, would require the construction of pipelines, compressor stations, fracking wells, power lines, and new roads. It would increase the amount of truck traffic, dust, noise and air pollution in rural areas. This sort of development would change the character of the wide open landscapes that we now call home, it could harm people sensitive to air pollution, and it could negatively impact property values, which are many peoples' life savings. Again, the BLM must look at those impacts now, at the earliest possible time before development rights are granted.

In May of 2017, a settlement ended a lawsuit brought against Bureau of Land Management. This was over its plan to auction drilling rights on one million acres in the Central Valley, Southern Sierra Mountains, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. After two years of negotiations, the BLM now has to launch a new analysis of pollution risks from fracking. We also feel these studies are necessary in order to make sound decisions that will affect the people, water, soil, plants and animals of this region.

For these and other reasons, we respectfully request that BLM postpone its September oil and gas lease sale in northern Arizona.

We also request the BLM schedule a series of widely advertised meetings soliciting and inviting public comment with at least 30 days notice in Navajo County and also in Phoenix.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

Rural Resident and/or Land Owner of Northern Arizona



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