ENERGY GROUP WINS IN NEW MEXICO OZONE LAWSUIT
August 3, 2011 - For Immediate Release
DENVER, CO. A New Mexico nonprofit entity that defends the interests of independent oil and natural gas producers, their employees, and service companies, today won a challenge by environmental groups to 92 federal oil and gas leases issued in New Mexico in 2008 when a New Mexico federal district court dismissed the lawsuit. The Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico (IPANM) won the right to intervene in the case because its members who won the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leases will be affected adversely if the court grants the relief sought by the groups, which is the voiding of all of the BLM leases. The groups claim the BLM had a duty to investigate the impact that the leases might have on ozone levels in the region. IPANM, which was formed in 1978, responded in its brief that the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, which was also sued, had fulfilled their legal responsibilities and the groups are not entitled to the relief they seek. The district court agreed with IPANM’s legal analysis.
“We are pleased with the district court’s ruling that the BLM and the Forest Service met all requirements of federal law regarding the analyses in which they engaged and the public participation they allowed,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation, which represents IPANM.
In March 2008, environmental groups protested the BLM’s New Mexico oil and gas lease sale of April 2008, claiming oil and gas production emits greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change, which effect the BLM should have addressed before issuing the leases. In July 2008, the BLM dismissed the groups’ protest, concluding that there was no “competent evidence that BLM’s decision . . . violated any law.”
In January 2009, the groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging BLM’s April 2008 lease sale—43 lease parcels totaling 28,729.51 acres—and its July 2008 sale—49 lease parcels totaling 39,946.12 acres. They argued that the BLM did not address climate change impacts and sought to void the leases.
In April 2009, other environmental groups sued the BLM and Forest Service alleging that they had violated various federal laws by approving federal oil and gas leasing in New Mexico. In particular, the groups claimed that the BLM failed to analyze the cumulative effects of ozone, failed to use adequate technological controls to reduce ozone emissions, and failed to analyze the leases in light of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) revised national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS).
In March 2009, IPANM moved to intervene in the climate change case and in June 2009, moved to intervene in the ozone case. Those motions were granted and the cases were consolidated in September 2009.
Mountain States Legal Foundation, founded in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.
WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, No. 09cv414 (D.N.M.).
Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) is a nonprofit,
public interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right
to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and economic freedom. It is an Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) entity
incorporated in the State of Colorado. Csontributions
to Mountain States Legal Foundation are tax deductible.
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