A southwestern trade group representing over 300 energy companies engaged in oil and natural gas exploration and production activities is accusing federal officials of illegally canceling or postponing the sale of more than two dozen leases over the past two years, according to an Associated Press report.
The Western Energy Alliance filed a lawsuit in New Mexico federal court on Thursday challenging the Secretary of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management’s failure to hold quarterly oil and natural gas lease sales on public lands.
The industry group alleges the BLM has canceled oil and gas lease sales in Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
The BLM’s New Mexico State Office exercises jurisdiction over Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico.
U.S. officials say at least some cancellations stem from companies’ limited interest. Of more than 2.2 million federal acres offered for sale last year, just over a half million acres received bids.
The government expects low oil and gas prices will reduce drilling on public lands by 40 percent versus historical levels in coming years.
The trade group is represented by Mark Barron and Alexander Obrecht of Denver’s Baker & Hostetler LLP. The legal firm previously scored a victory against the BLM with regard to the agency’s hydraulic fracturing rule.