Industry fires back over pulled oil and gas leases at San Rafael Swell

Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — An association representing hundreds of oil and gas producers in the West is appealing the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to yank 57 parcels of land from its November sale, asserting that the federal agency unlawfully caved in to a special interest group.

“BLM made a decision to defer 57 leases in Utah because of a last-minute request from one special-interest group,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for Western Energy Alliance. “The group did not even bother to comment during the prescribed analysis or protest phases, two separate opportunities over several months for the public to participate.”

In its official appeal of the Nov. 14 decision by BLM state director Juan Palma, the alliance, joined by Castle Valley Holdings, said federal land managers held a closed, private meeting with the Utah Rock Art Research Association on Oct. 23 and unlawfully reacted to concerns raised in a subsequent letter on Nov. 7, nearly two months after the close of a protest period.

“BLM’s own policies state that it won’t accept comments received after established deadlines, yet it ignored the public and its own carefully crafted measures by bending to the demands of one group,” Sgamma said. (…)

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