Ruling would name lease nominators in North Fork

Two groups are seeking an expedited ruling on their request to learn who nominated public lands for oil and gas leasing in the North Fork Valley, after a decision to lease much of the land in February.

Citizens for a Healthy Community, based in Delta County, and the Western Environmental Law Center have filed a motion in their challenge to the Bureau of Land Management’s policy of keeping nominators of lease parcels confidential until after lease sales.

They filed the suit earlier this year. They say knowing who made the nominations is important to being able to participate in the BLM’s decision-making process.

The BLM initially planned to lease about 30,000 acres in the North Fork Valley. After widespread public outcry, it deferred those plans. But in mid-
November, the agency decided to proceed with leasing about two-thirds of that acreage Feb. 14.

A deadline for protesting the BLM’s plans is Dec. 17. The groups hope for a ruling on the disclosure issue before then.

In their motion, the plaintiffs indicated one reason for having the information would be to allow scrutiny of nominating companies for possible environmental violations.

Spokesman Steven Hall said the BLM is required by law to offer oil and gas leases competitively to ensure the public gets a fair market value, and maintaining the confidentiality of lease nominators is essential.


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