Dept of Interior Sued by Oil Drilling Companies for Revoking Utah Exploration Leases

arches national park photo

Arches National Park photo: Tobias via flickr

You probably could've guessed it would happen: Back in February the Department of Interior revoke oil and gas exploration leases on public land in Utah, which had been authorized by the Bush administration, on the grounds that they were too close to several national parks and important wilderness areas. Now three drilling companies in three Utah counties are suing for lost revenue:Interior got hit with two separate lawsuits on the same day. Carbon, Duchesne, and Uintah counties filed one suit; Questar Exploration & Production Co., Impact Energy Resources, and Peak Royalty Holdings filed the other. Both groups say that they will lose millions on dollars in revenue and royalties by the move.

Suits Claim Salazar Misinformed About Proximity to National Parks
Furthermore, the groups say that Interior Secretary Salazar was "supplied with misinformation" regarding the proximity of the lease parcels to protected lands. A lawyer representing the drillers said none of the parcels was closer than 15.5 miles to a national park, and that the closest was separated from Arches National Park by a road. By a road.

Forcing Salazar's Hand?
Considering that Salazar indicated that leases on the parcels could be reconsidered, and reinstated if a new review indicated that air quality wouldn't be compromised nor other natural aspects of the protect lands disturbed, this really seems like a move to force action on the matter as much as anything else.

via: AP/Yahoo News
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