The Private Company Selling Off America’s Public Lands

story by Mya Frazier as published on

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)

Ken Salazar: Up to His Neck in Wild Horses, Oil, Gas and Whales

Op/Ed by R.T. Fitch – Author of Straight from the Horse’s Heart

Salazar Takes His Reign of Ineptitude to the High Seas

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar - Captain of a Sinking Ship

The Wild Horse advocates and Environmentalists have been screaming it for the past year and no one has listened, nothing has changed except that conditions have worsened.  The Obama Administration’s selection of Ken Salazar to the position of Secretary of the Department of Interior has been in question since the day of his appointment.  Muddled in rumors of collusion and ineptitude Salazar, a rancher by trade, has made it his hallmark to bumble and stumble his way through mismanaging his federal agency while ignoring congressional inquiries and public opinion.

The Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has accelerated their attack on native, American wild horses to the point that over 35,000 are now held in long term pens to which the taxpayer pays a hefty price to maintain. (they cost nothing left alone on their native, congressionally protected soil).  Salazar then comes along and suggests a hair brained idea of buying/leasing land in the mid-west to ship all the horses to so that Americans can watch them die after being sterilized.  (Great plan; why not save a billion or two and allow them to stay on the land that congress designated to them {ROAM Act} where they have been doing just fine for hundreds of years?)

Now, a drilling rig blows up in the Gulf; it’s inspection record under Salazar’s Mineral Management Service (MMS) is obviously in question and even more death is rained down upon humans, wildlife and the world’s environment.  The corruption is so rampant in the MMS, under Salazar’s direction, that it finally embarrasses and pisses off his benefactor, Obama, who declares a total revamping of the entire bureau and announces that heads will roll for the incompetence.  So what do they do?  They fire the director of the MMS.  (Hey, what about the man at the wheel?)

Is anyone paying attention, here?  I guess tens of thousands of abused wild horses and their associated deaths didn’t count but now Salazar is killing shrimp, oysters, whales, dolphins, jobs and oh yes, we are losing oil that we need to power his motorcade, heaven forbid.

If any manager, in the private sector, was so totally disengaged from the inner workings of his department’s infrastructure they would be terminated, immediately.  Yet, we allow a poor choice to become an even worse choice to bumble, scramble and enable an already corrupt organization to expand and run further out of control while he is asleep at the wheel.

It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to watch this guy during a press conference and realize that  he is way out of his league as he stammers and digs for plausible answers;  he simply falls flat on his face every time he opens his mouth.  Obama, what were you thinking?

So if giving away tens of thousands of acres of your public lands to private interests, while illegally stripping them of native, protected wild horses is not enough to raise your ire, then how about the pollution and destruction of the coral reefs of Florida and all of the beaches up the entire east coast.  Is that enough to fire you up?

Call for Salazar’s resignation, there is not a qualified bone in his body, and demand that Obama appoint an engaged and competent candidate to the position of the Secretary of the Interior.  It wasn’t enough that Salazar has destroyed our wild west and the heritage that makes America great, he has now taken his campaign of destruction to the high seas and proven that nowhere is wildlife safe while Ken Salazar is at the helm.  

Trying to kill off “Cloud, the Stallion of the Rockies” was not enough for him, now he is poisoning little “Nemo”. 

This guy has got to go!

 ” Call Pres. Obama 202-456-1111 and D.C. 202-224-3121 and ask for his resignation, today!”

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