Those who thought they would finally know this week who nominated the 30,000 acres of land for oil and gas development in the North Fork Valley in December 2011 will have to wait another month.
On Monday, March 11, the federal court allowed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) a stay of 30 more days.
The BLM must now either release the names or appeal the ruling by the new April 15 deadline.
The original decision was made on Feb. 13 to force the BLM to release the names of those nominating the oil and gas leases proposed for auction first in August 2012 and then February 2013. All the parcels were deferred from the two sales, but that is a postponement, not a withdrawal, of the parcels from future sales.
The Department of the Interior and BLM filed the motion for stay. It was unopposed by plaintiffs Citizens For A Healthy Community (CHC) and Western Environmental Law Center (WELC). The plaintiffs filed the original Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
CHC and WELC did not object to the BLM's extension request, since the standard amount of time to appeal a federal district court ruling is 60 days.
Richard Matsch, senior district judge, made both the Feb. 13 and March 11 decisions.
In his original court ruling, Judge Matsch stated, "Competition in bidding advances the purpose of getting a fair price for a lease of publicly owned minerals. Moreover, the identity of the submitter may be relevant to the plaintiff and others who may raise concerns about the stewardship records of that potential owner, a factor relevant to the environmental impact of the proposed sale."
On Monday, March 11, Jim Ramey, CHC director, said, "An open and transparent bidding process is the best way to make sure the public gets a fair price for leasing publicly owned minerals."
WELC attorney Kyle Tisdel said, "We look forward to the BLM following the law and serving the public interest by releasing this illegally withheld information."
The Department of Interior and the BLM made the extension request "so that a decision can be made on whether to appeal the court's decision." The decision to appeal will be made by the Office of the Solicitor General.blog comments powered by Disqus