The Private Company Selling Off America’s Public Lands

story by Mya Frazier as published on OutsideOnline.com

EnergyNet, an online auction company from Amarillo, Texas, is set to make a fortune from oil and gas leases.  And good luck finding a way to protest.

When Texas oilman Bill Britain started the auction site EnergyNet in October 1999, it wasn’t exactly a state-of-the-art operation. Its homepage used a generic design template, an add-on to the Virtual Auctioneer software Britain bought from a Dallas firm. Like hordes of other entrepreneurs at the time, Britain hoped to bring the billion-dollar auctioneering model of eBay to an industry where he had a toehold. A decade and a half after graduating from West Point, Britain had started J-Brex Co., an Amarillo-based energy company, and had oil wells scattered all over Texas. If there was one thing he knew well, it was how to buy and sell drilling leases.

Britain boasted of “changing the way the oil and gas industry did business.” He pitched his auctions as “ON LINE REAL TIME,” but the technology was hardly game-changing—bidders were notified by email when they were outbid—and his timing, at the apex of the dot-com bubble, was terrible. “It burst almost the moment we got started,” Britain recently told Forbes.

Despite such inauspicious beginnings, by 2012 EnergyNet had become one of the industry’s biggest auction sites for oil and gas leases, even if overall sales on the platform were relatively modest. But over the next couple years, Britain began inking exclusive contracts to host lease auctions of public lands, including with state land agencies and, most notably, in 2015 with the Bureau of Land Management.

The platform took off. Less than a year into the Trump administration, transactions have risen to $1.25 billion. About half the transactions through the first three quarters of 2017, or about $600 million, were leases of public lands.

EnergyNet typically earns a 2 percent commission with state agencies; federal land commissions are set at 1.5 percent. By October of 2017, EnergyNet had earned an estimated $9 million auctioning off America’s public lands, based on an Outside analysis. Once fourth-quarter transactions are finalized, earnings could potentially rise to $15 million or more. (EnergyNet, a private company, doesn’t disclose profits.)

Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to unleash America’s estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves—a vision now being executed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Once-protected national monuments, like Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, are now vulnerable to drilling. And Britain’s once-obscure auction site provides the platform through which this massive opening of federal lands for energy extraction will happen—all without the pesky problem of public protests.

So how did a private company become the biggest seller of America’s public lands?…(CONTINUED)

https://www.outsideonline.com/2269336/obscure-texas-company-selling-public-land

9 comments on “The Private Company Selling Off America’s Public Lands

  1. TIME TO PAY ATTENTION FOLKS, IF YOU VALUE THE PUBLIC INTEREST IN PUBLIC LANDS, Interesting Bundy is the same age as Trump, too:

    “The 71-year-old Bundy appears to relish the return to the public eye after being set free from federal custody Monday for the first time since early 2016.

    “Nevada, the Western U.S. and all of America, I think we do need changes. The federal government, BLM, is through suing Western ranchers,” he declared, referring to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. “This is the last fire they’re going to set.”

    Bartrum dismissed Bundy’s contention that the federal government has no authority over vast public land in the West, saying in a draft law review article that “constitutional doctrine, well-settled in the Supreme Court, expressly recognizes the federal government’s power to acquire, retain and regulate” property within a state.

    John Lamb, a farmer turned blogger from Bozeman, Montana, who attended trials for those charged in the standoff case, said he believes states’ rights are prevailing.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/bundy-insists-us-cant-own-land-no-matter-whos-president/2018/01/09/759b5cb0-f5a3-11e7-9af7-a50bc3300042_story.html?utm_term=.05d9ecb125e9

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  2. BLM Wyoming Federal Lease Sale, December 14, 2017
    45 Parcels covering 72,844.05 acres available for lease.

    The BLM Wyoming State Office received 3 protests for the Notice of Competitive Oil and Gas Internet-Based Lease Sale Notice.

    3 protests were received

    All protests have been dismissed. For more information visit the BLM website.

    Information Notice #1 09/11/2017
    Review the Information Notice #1 to the Notice of Competitive Oil and Gas Internet-Based Lease Sale
    Notice of Competitive Oil and Gas Internet-Based Lease Sale
    Review the August 9, 2017 Notice of Sale

    The official description of each parcel being offered in the sale is defined by the Sale Notice and associated modifications posted by the BLM State Office on their official website.
    GIS Data WGS84 | GIS Data NAD83 | GIS Data NAD27
    Download GIS Data for this sale in the form of a shapefile

    Please be advised that the information contained herein is for REFERENCE USE ONLY and is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying purposes. Neither the Bureau of Land Management nor EnergyNet.com shall be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential damages to any party arising out of or in connection with the use of data contained herein.
    https://www.energynet.com/govt_listing.pl?sg=2897

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  3. BLM Montana Federal Lease Sale, December 11 and 12, 2017
    There we received protests on all 204 parcels for the BLM Montana/Dakotas Oil and Gas lease sale starting on December 11, 2017 continuing through December 12, 2017. All protests were dismissed. For more information visit the BLM website.
    Amendment Notice No. 2 10/31/2017
    Review the Amendment Notice No. 2 to the Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale
    Amendment Notice No. 1 09/28/2017
    Review the Amendment Notice No. 1 to the Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale
    Notice of Competitive Oil and Gas Internet-Based Lease Sale
    Review the December 12, 2017 Notice of Sale

    The official description of each parcel being offered in the sale is defined by the Sale Notice and associated modifications posted by the BLM State Office on their official website.
    GIS Data WGS84 | GIS Data NAD83 | GIS Data NAD27
    Download GIS Data for this sale in the form of a shapefile

    Please be advised that the information contained herein is for REFERENCE USE ONLY and is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying purposes. Neither the Bureau of Land Management nor EnergyNet.com shall be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential damages to any party arising out of or in connection with the use of data contained herein.
    5.87 acres available for lease.

    https://www.energynet.com/govt_listing.pl?sg=3665

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  4. Utah Activist Disrupts Sale of Leases for Drilling
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSDEC. 20, 2008

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – An environmental activist disrupted an auction of oil and gas drilling leases Friday by bidding up parcels of land by hundreds of thousands of dollars with no intention of paying for them, a federal official said.
    The process was thrown into chaos and the bidding halted for a time before the auction was closed, with 116 parcels totaling 148,598 acres having sold for $7.2 million plus fees.

    The activist, Tim DeChristopher, 27, a University of Utah economics student, said he had accomplished his goal of disrupting the auction. Mr. DeChristopher won the bidding on 13 parcels, auction records show, and drove up the price of several others.

    Criminal investigators for the Bureau of Land Management questioned Mr. DeChristopher, who said he expected to be charged. He was released, and the case was referred to federal prosecutors for possible fraud charges, a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office said.

    “I’m willing to deal with that,” Mr. DeChristopher said.

    Activists said the sale would threaten Utah’s wild lands and spoil the view from some of the state’s spectacular national parks with drilling rigs.

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  5. BIDDER 70

    At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow…
    Tim DeChristopher
    http://www.bidder70film.com/

    Like

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