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Thread: A Guy Named Craig May Soon Have Control Over a Large Swath of Utah

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    Post A Guy Named Craig May Soon Have Control Over a Large Swath of Utah

    A Guy Named Craig May Soon Have Control Over a Large Swath of Utah


    Even if you’ve never been to the vast red-rock desert country around Moab, Utah, you’ve been there—its mesas and buttes, its towering arches, have been the backdrop for a thousand movies (and even more S.U.V. commercials). It’s what we think about when we think about “the West,” a truly mythic place. Some of it has been protected in national monuments and parks: Arches and Canyonlands. But the fate of a large swath of it, though nominally belonging to the American people, may soon fall to a guy named Craig Larson.

    Here’s the story so far. Under a long-standing law known as the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, anyone can “nominate” a parcel of federal land for oil-and-gas development—it doesn’t cost a thing. The rules are so lax that you don’t even have to supply your name if you want to nominate a piece of land, but Prairie Hills Oil & Gas did provide at least that much context when it asked the federal Bureau of Land Management to set aside land between Arches and Canyonlands. Prairie Hills Oil & Gas, of North Dakota, it turns out, is headquartered at a home that Larson, an attorney, co-owns in Big Lake, Minnesota, about forty miles northwest of Minneapolis. After the land is nominated, and certain review processes are completed, the B.L.M. moves to set up a lease auction, which, in the case of Larson and Utah, is scheduled for September. (Although Larson has nominated the parcels, anyone, in fact, could be the ultimate winning bidder.)

    The minimum competitive bid for an acre is two dollars, and that’s often the price it goes for in areas like Moab—the prospects are far from guaranteed. The lease has a term of ten years, and, after the gavel comes down, the annual rental fee per acre would be a dollar and a half for the first five years, and two dollars for the second. As Steve Bloch, of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, explained it to me, “If Company A buys a hundred-acre lease, they will write B.L.M. a check for five hundred and twenty dollars.” That would include the bid, the first-year rental rate, and an administrative fee. If the company drills for oil and gas, it also pays the government a royalty of 12.5 per cent on the production, and the lease can be extended.





    Update: I have not been able to confirm it but I think Biden killed this.

    Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect. -- Woody Hayes​

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