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By Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette

Oil drilling rig

As federal oil and gas leases go, the first Montana sale in nearly two years was no firecracker.

Post-sale data for the June 30 event shows 865 federal acres in Montana fetching a combined $68,073. The data is presented by EnergyNet, which manages the Bureau of Land Management’s online leasing program. The sale, which included parcels in Montana and North Dakota, produced more than $7.3 million in receipts. North Dakota acres received as much as $52,001 an acre.

This was the Bureau of Land Management’s first Montana-Dakota lease sale since Sept. 22, 2020. It was brought about by a court order striking down an onshore-lease suspension made by President Joe Biden days after taking office. As a candidate, Biden had campaigned on ending oil and gas drilling on federal land, a key part of the president’s plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The sale seemed to satisfy neither the petroleum industry nor environmentalists.

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