• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Federal Judge Forces Interior to Decide on Drilling Leases

    Typically when someone buys something, that person receives some good or service in return. That’s not always the case when it comes to the federal government.

    The Department of Interior failed to issue leases after several oil and gas companies purchased them from the Bureau of Land Management. Consequently, the six companies that won and bought the leases and Western Energy Alliance, which represents more than 400 independent natural gas and oil producers, sued the government. They earned a partial victory last week when a federal judge in Wyoming ordered Interior to decide on 47 leases in Utah and Wyoming but not necessarily issue them.

    Between 2005 and 2010, these oil and gas companies purchased a number of leases on federal lands to explore and drill for oil and gas. Before the companies can move forward, however, Interior must issue the leases. The Mineral Leasing Act requires that “leases shall be issued” by the Secretary of the Interior 60 days after a company wins the bid, but Secretary Ken Salazar hasn’t done so. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The Wyoming office of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, where many of the leases were purchased, said leases were held up by objections from environmental groups.”

    The government offered no refund for the money paid for the leases. One company, Baseline, “paid more than $1.3 million for Wyoming leases and nearly $545,000 for Utah leases. At the time of the lawsuit’s filing, Baseline had only received some of its leases in Wyoming and none of the Utah leases. The Utah leases were won during auctions held as long as six years ago.”

    The tag-team of radical environmental groups and onerous regulatory red tape continues to halt America’s energy production and stifle job creation and economic activity. Environmental activists delay new energy projects by filing endless administrative appeals and lawsuits. Shell cited regulatory delays and legal challenges preventing it from moving forward with exploration programs in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

    This is the second time the federal courts have sided with America’s energy producers. Federal District Court Judge Martin Feldman held the Interior Department in contempt of court for ignoring his ruling to cease the job-killing drilling moratorium imposed by President Obama last year.

    The Obama Administration touted that U.S. crude oil production in 2010 was the highest it has been since 2003. While this is true (as a result of increased horizontal drilling in North Dakota), the Energy Information Administration projects that oil production will decline in the coming years as a result of Obama’s anti-drilling policies. Oil and gas production drives the economy in significant portions of the western United States. It’s nonsensical to unnecessarily hold up energy production at a time when it’s badly needed.


    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    One Response to Federal Judge Forces Interior to Decide on Drilling Leases

    1. Bobbie says:

      "The Obama Administration touted that U.S. crude oil production in 2010 was the highest it has been since 2003. "

      Everything they DO is in comparison of another time without consideration IN COMPARISON TO DETAILS and if this administration is or did better than a time before, the administration goes no further but to lay contention, excuses and obstacles in the way and at a cost of money, time and American livelihoods. The government needs to govern the people and STOP giving authority to the EPA OVER the PEOPLE.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.