Supreme Court refuses to hear case on canceled oil, gas leases - Uintah Basin Media: News

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Supreme Court refuses to hear case on canceled oil, gas leases

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013 4:46 pm

Five years of litigation came to an end on Oct. 7 when the U.S. Supreme Court denied to hear the petition regarding the 77 canceled oil and gas leases.

The leases were canceled in February 2009 by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that had been sold in competitive bid in the Dec. 2008 auction.

Petitioners Carbon, Duchesne and Uintah counties and several energy companies claimed that the Secretary exceeded his authority in doing so.

For his part, Salazar deemed the leases too close to Utah's protected lands of Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dinosaur National Monument.

As a result, the Interior Department, Salazar and the Bureau of Land Management were sued in U.S. District Court by the coalition as a result.

Salazar's decision held at the district level with Judge Dee Benson ruling the Secretary had exceeded his authority but the plaintiffs filed their their lawsuit past the 90-day deadline.

The litigants appealed the decision in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in September 2012, but here again, the Secretary prevailed.

In January 2013, an additional appeal requesting that the case be heard by the full 10-judge panel was turned down by the 10th Circuit.

“The decision by the 10th Circuit Court sets a dangerous precedent,” Mike McKee, Uintah County commissioner, told the Vernal Express at the time

McKee felt that the lingering question of when the clock started – with the Secretary's internal memo, or the public announcement days later – was never adequately resolved.

Uintah County officials have always maintained that a public process buried in the internal memos of a federal agency is unlawful.

In a last ditch effort the litigants asked the Supreme Court to hear arguments related to their appeal.

On Monday the answer was a denial by the country's top court.

Steve Bloch, attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, who filed as an intervenor with the Interior, called it the “the end of the line” for the lawsuit.

This is not the end for Utah BLM lease auctions as one is scheduled for November 2013.

The Vernal Express was unable to get information about the upcoming lease sale as the agency's website has been taken down during the federal shutdown.

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  • commonsense posted at 10:31 am on Sun, Oct 13, 2013.

    commonsense Posts: 22

    Mary. Thanks again for the map.

  • Sphenodon posted at 2:48 pm on Fri, Oct 11, 2013.

    Sphenodon Posts: 24

    Ooooh, "commonsense", threatening my manhood, are we? Man, have I ever been served! The season is plenty long, lightly loaded canoes can float it year round.
    I am not surprised about you being a climate change denialist, it fits the profile you present. You know, I remember when most Republicans in my life believed in science, weren't afraid of facts, and had intellectual integrity. Now they create parallel universe delusions about climate and evolution, they find that "facts have a liberal bias" (kudos to Stephen Colbert!), and they fear the truth.
    By the way, if you would like your posts to be less obscure, you might fill in what your statistics are supposed to refer to: 65% can't believe it's butter? 65% sleep on their right side in a fetal position. Please be less murky in your posts.

  • commonsense posted at 12:52 pm on Fri, Oct 11, 2013.

    commonsense Posts: 22

    sphenodon, What may be nonsense to you is not to 65% of Utahns. (Yes, this does include the Wasatch Front) The percentage is much higher if you do not include the Wasatch front.

    I bet that you think that we will all succumb to Climate Change long before the last cubic yard? of gas is pulled from the earth.

    Although I love the White River and have explored it extensively, the season is very short and it seems to be the choice for the ones who are afraid to run other rivers.

  • Sphenodon posted at 8:39 am on Fri, Oct 11, 2013.

    Sphenodon Posts: 24

    You are speaking nonsense, commonsense. If the NPS would have objected without reason, it is odd that we have such a thriving energy industry. They apparently neglected to object to 10,000 others. The map doesn't show it, but one lease was directly across the Green River from the Dinosaur Quarry. Others were just outside Canyonlands and Arches. And finally, one was directly in the middle of the White River Canyon, a small area of peace for river runners in the industrial wasteland that the northern Book Cliffs has become.
    Don't forget, "commonsense", we are going to, someday, pull the last cubic yard of gas, and the last barrel of petroleum, from our lands. So we're going to have to figure something out. The only question for me is, how many other things of value will be sacrificed along the way? What you call obstructionism, other people call protection from ill-conceived development and near-sighted county commissions.
    Your last comment was right on the money; Uintah County spends public dollars for some of our energy development. How great a subsidy from Uintah County does Halliburton need to develop these resources?

  • commonsense posted at 7:46 am on Fri, Oct 11, 2013.

    commonsense Posts: 22

    Nice to see a map! As a 40+ year resident, and if I understand the map, I see no problem with these leases that were offered. The NPS would have objected to these leases even though there would be no impact on DMN lands. Thats what the NPS does.
    I hope that the "anonymous whistle blower" never has to pay as much for energy as many countries in Europe.
    How much Uintah County money has been spent trying to develop energy while fighting SUWA and other obstructionist organizations lawsuits?

  • Sphenodon posted at 9:23 pm on Thu, Oct 10, 2013.

    Sphenodon Posts: 24

    Leases are offered quarterly, and continue to be offered (ask anyone in the BLM whose entire job is processing APDs - applications to drill). The last batch offered by the outgoing George Bush administration conveniently skipped over the usual oversight with the National Park Service; it was (and remains) standard to notifiy that sister agency, the NPS, of leases being considered, so that the NPS might comment on any that might affect the parks. It was only 2 days before the sale that an anonymous whistleblower brought out the controversial nature of some of the leases. So the 77 were pulled. Some have not been re-offered, and probably won't be, for reasons the Bush administration was trying to obscure. Some leases have been offered again. But here's the point; we continue to offer, sell, and develop leases, now having 10,000 that have been developed, and we look to triple that number to 30,000 in the next few years. Where is the Uintah County Commission's sense of proportion? And how much of our county monies were spent on this fruitless lawsuit? Get over it.