Energy company allowed to intervene in lawsuit |

Energy company allowed to intervene in lawsuit

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A federal district judge has allowed Vantage Energy, the company that successfully bid on federal mineral leases on top of the Roan Plateau Planning Area, to intervene in a current lawsuit over the future of the area.

While U.S. District Judge John Kane ruled that the company could intervene in the lawsuit filed by 10 environmental groups, he also said that the company’s participation should be limited “in the interest of efficient conduct of the proceedings,” court documents show.

Ten environmental groups filed a lawsuit in July arguing that the BLM’s plan for natural gas development on the Roan Plateau violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Vantage Energy and the federal government have denied that allegation, court documents show.

The lawsuit was filed about a month before an Aug. 14 lease sale of 54,600 acres in the Roan Plateau Planning Area. That sale brought in about $114 million. Vantage bid about $57 million for 19 parcels in the area.

The environmental groups argued against Vantage’s attempt to intervene in the case. They said the company didn’t show that the federal government “will fail to adequately represent its interests,” according to court records.

“Vantage shares the same goal as the United States in this case: To defend the Roan Plateau Record of Decision and the August 14th, 2008 lease sales,” the groups argued in court documents. “As a result, adequate representation is assumed.”

The groups also argued that the close alignment of the federal government and Vantage is highlighted by the fact that Rebecca Watson, now Vantage’s counsel, was the assistant secretary of the Department of Interior from January 2002 to November to 2005.

“In this position, Watson had administrative responsibility over the Bureau of Land Management and had authority over a number of controversial decisions in preparing the Roan Plateau Draft (environmental impact statement),” the groups court filing said.

The BLM is currently reviewing the thousands of protests filed against the August sale of Roan Plateau leases. The BLM can only issue leases after it resolves the protests ” a process that can take several months.

If the BLM rejects a protest, the group who filed it can appeal the decision to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Board of Land Appeals.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

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