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The Bureau of Land Management is delaying next week’s scheduled lease sale in the heart of New Mexico oil and gas country after activists raised concerns about transparency.

Environmentalists who have been protesting lease sales across the West consider the decision a small victory as they push for the agency to do large-scale assessments of the effects of drilling on federal land.

The sale was initially planned for July 20 in Santa Fe, home of the BLM’s main office for the region. The agency said in late June it was moving the auction to Roswell.

Activists suggest the move was intended to stifle ongoing criticism of oil and gas development.

BLM spokeswoman Lisa Morrison says management opted for Roswell given that all of the parcels up for bid are in southeastern New Mexico.

The BLM announced this morning it has rescheduled the sale for Sept. 1. The location will remain at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center in Roswell, where, the BLM says, the public will have the opportunity to observe the process.

A total of 36 parcels will be offered containing 13,876 subsurface acres of federal minerals, with six parcels in Eddy County for 1,232 acres and 30 in Lea County for 12,644 acres.

The sale will begin at 9 a.m., and only oral bids offered on site will be accepted. Parcels will be awarded to qualified bidders offering the highest acceptable bid. The minimum acceptable bid is $2 per acre.

For more information on the sale, visit www.blm.gov.