On Monday, July 6, the State Land and Investment Board will decide whether it wants to move forward and bid on acquiring a million surface acres and four million acres from Occidental Petroleum. The board, which is made up of the top five state elected officials, is awaiting word from the international investment and financial services company Barclays on the value of the land.
Several legislators have expressed concern over moving forward with a deal without more public input. But during a news conference this week, Gov. Mark Gordon defended the move, saying they needed to understand the land's value, so they know what they're debating. He added that if they make a bid, there will be plenty of public discussion. Gordon said lawmakers will be part of the process.
"This doesn't take the legislature out of any of that process, the legislature ultimately has the ability to make lots of determinations as it goes forward. But you have to have something to comment on, otherwise you just opine. And it's important to know what the value of this is," said Gordon.
Supporters say the financial return to the state could easily exceed the bid price, but current market conditions have put that in question for others. Gordon said a bid would just be a first step and that will be followed by months of negotiations.
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