Industry sues government over oil, gas lease holdups

Energy industry representatives sued the federal government today, claiming the Department of Interior is breaking the law by failing to issue oil and gas leases to winning bidders within 60 days of being paid.

One of the plaintiffs, the Denver-based Western Energy Alliance trade group, says it also plans to sue within a few days over the Bureau of Land Management’s new policy restricting use of what are called categorical exclusions to streamline environmental reviews of oil and gas operations.

The Western Energy Alliance said today’s lawsuit involves 118 Wyoming and Utah leases worth more than $4.5 million that the BLM has refused to issue due to ongoing protests. The leases date back to 2005.

The group says the BLM continues to hold more than $100 million worth of leases in total in a nonproductive capacity.

“There aren’t too many auctions … I’m aware of where the seller can decide not to provide the good or service that was purchased. You don’t go on eBay and buy something and then have to wait two years for your merchandise,” said Kathleen Sgamma, director of government affairs for the Western Energy Alliance.

Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said she couldn’t comment on litigation against the agency.



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