U.S. taxpayer and conservation groups on Tuesday urged the Trump administration to halt plans to sell oil and gas leases on more than 300,000 acres (120,000 hectares) of public lands this month after a sale in Nevada drew mostly minimum bids from a weakened drilling industry.
The small Nevada auction was the first of six sales the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will hold this month as it resumes its leasing program following a five-month pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Of the 11 parcels offered on Tuesday, seven sold for the minimum bid of $2 an acre. The remaining four sold for under $10 an acre. The sale of more than 15,000 acres raised about $63,000 in total bids, according to results posted on the online auction website EnergyNet.
Oil and gas drilling on public lands is a key part of the Trump administration’s efforts to boost domestic energy production. Joe Biden, who is challenging President Donald Trump in the November election, has vowed to ban new drilling permits on federal lands and waters.