Industry Groups See Montana Lawsuit as Counterproductive

The Western Energy Alliance (WEA), American Petroleum Institute and Montana Petroleum Association hope to see the dismissal of a second lawsuit filed by environmental groups to halt Montana oil and gas leasing activity.

The Wild Earth Guardians, Montana Environmental Information Center and Oil and Gas Accountability Project are again suing the Montana Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to halt oil and gas leasing in Montana. The court hearing takes place Friday in Helena, Montana.

The environmental groups initially sued BLM in 2008 to halt oil and gas leasing in Montana, arguing that Montana BLM had not adequately analyzed the impact of oil and gas leasing on climate change, Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of Government & Public Affairs for WEA, told Rigzone.

BLM put oil and gas leasing on hold during 2008 to conduct a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis. BLM concluded that the impact of oil and gas leasing on climate change was infinitesimal, Sgamma noted. BLM held a lease sale at year-end 2008 in which approximately 100 oil and gas leases in Montana were awarded.

"These environmental groups continue a counterproductive lawsuit that curtails economic activity and job creation in Montana, while opposing the one energy source, natural gas, that has provided a real, meaningful solution for climate change," Sgamma said in a statement Friday.

Environmental groups used this argument to halt oil and gas leasing in California, Sgamma commented, adding, "Once they get a legal precedent, they'll try and push it everywhere else."

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com

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