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Legal Challenge to Rocky Mountain Front Oil and Gas Leasing  
Date: March-23-2000

Legal Challenge to Rocky Mountain Front Oil and Gas Leasing Ban

Legal Challenge to Rocky Mountain Front Oil and Gas Leasing Ban

Judge Charles Lovell heard arguments from attorney Charles Kaiser for the Rocky Mountain Oil & Gas Association/Public Lands Advocacy challenging Lewis & Clark National Forest Supervisor Flora’s decision to not allow oil and gas leasing on the Forest’s Rocky Mountain Front.

Kaiser emphasized that the Forest Service’s studies found no significant impacts from oil and gas leasing. Nonetheless, Flora chose no leasing because of public sentiment. Forest decisions are not to be referendums, said Kaiser.

Attorney William Thode representing IPAA as an intervener argued that Flora’s reliance on “Sense of Place” and the spirituality of the Front Range rendered her decision illegitimate and unconstitutional. Thode also cited that the sense of place issue had not appeared in any draft documents and therefore was not available for public review and comment. The decision, therefore, was procedurally flawed. The Federal attorney argued that no statute had been violated and that the federal government has broad leeway in its decision-making.

James Angell, attorney for intervener environmental groups, stated that it is not the court’s role to upset a forest supervisor’s decision and there is no limit on the supervisor’s reasons for adopting a no leasing decision. He concluded by saying that Flora’s choice of the no leasing alternative over the preferred alternative —which had limited leasing — was a perfect example of how NEPA works well. “She reached, in my opinion, a more balanced decision. The plaintiffs’ (RMOGA) anti-democratic complaint should be rejected,” declared Angell.

 

Reprinted with permission by Public Land Advocacy News; & Gail Abercombie, Montana Petroleum Association.

 

 

 

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