Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Government agencies support oil & gas law development

In what may be something of an interesting twist in governmental policy, one state joined petroleum groups and county governments in an environmental case being fought out against an environmental protection organization. The lawsuit is the attempt of the environmental organization, WildEarth, to challenge the validity of 397 oil/gas leases involving 379,950 acres of federal lands. The defendant, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is a signatory with oil & gas law interests on the leases. The dispute is similar to the types of litigation conflicts that also occur in Louisiana. 

WildEarth seeks to prevent the widespread oil/gas leasing, drilling and, ultimately, hydraulic fracturing that could result from enforcement and performance on the leases. The group claims that federal law demands a broad environmental impact statement that focuses on the effects on climate change that will be caused by the oil and gas activities that will occur. The group asserts that the activities will promote "climate pollution."

The state of Colorado, through its Attorney General, is alleging that if the federal court invalidates the leases, then the state could be unable to assure future development in step with Colorado's regulations. The state also alleges that Colorado could lose funding from the very programs that attempt to minimize the effect of the oil and gas activities on the environment. The state claims it needs to protect its regulatory and economic interests in oil and gas development that could be impaired if the leases are stopped.

The BLM has argued to the court that oil & gas law does not require a broad environmental impact statement at the leasing stage. The state attorney general confirmed its intervention. The convergence of governmental entities in favor of the oil & gas law interests indicates that the state and federal governments are supportive of current efforts to proceed with controlled use of the lands under existing regulatory frameworks. This may be a factor in Louisiana oil/gas leases in the future if the developments indicate a more business-friendly trend that is emerging. 

Source: naturalgasintel.com, "Colorado Attorney General Sides With BLM in Lawsuit Brought by Environmentalists", Richard Nemec, Dec. 27, 2016

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