Enviros file suit to stop oil and gas drilling near National Grassland in Colorado


The environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, went to court this week against the federal government, accusing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management of failing to protect shortgrass prairie in Colorado’s Pawnee National Grassland.

The Grassland is in the northeast part of Colorado and located 35 miles east of Fort Colllins. It is in Weld County and covers 193,060 acres within a 30-by-60 mile area.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit claiming the Grassland is threatened by continued oil and gas extraction.

The case challenges the agency’s authorization of drilling permits in and around the federally managed grassland. In issuing the permits, the BLM said it lacked authority to consider harms to wildlife, air and water, dark skies, or the aesthetic and visual character of the grassland because the federal minerals would be extracted by horizontal fracking from wells built on private or state lands.

“The BLM doesn’t just have the authority to address the multiple threats that federal fossil fuel extraction has on the Pawnee National Grassland, it’s legally required to protect this biologically diverse area,” said Alli Henderson, southern Rockies director at the Center.

“These grasslands are a treasure in Colorado, home to burrowing owls and swift foxes, and they support more than 300 unique bird species. The agency should step up to safeguard the harms that are putting this unique and special habitat in the crosshairs of fossil fuel extraction.”

The suit claimed the oil and gas drilling in Weld County, a county known for its oil production, contributes to ozone pollution in Colorado’s Front Range.

“The BLM has a real chance to be part of the solution when it comes to cleaning up ozone pollution on the Front Range,” said Henderson. “Instead of throwing its hands in the air, the agency needs to implement measures to protect the air quality that people and wildlife depend on, and safeguard our dark and starry skies.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is represented in the lawsuit by Advocates for the West, a public interest, nonprofit environmental law firm that protects and defends the West’s public lands, water, fish, and wildlife.

Source: press release