Today, the Center for Biological Diversity in a coalition of other conservation groups filed suit against the federal Bureau of Land Management because, they say, the BLM has allowed 800,000 acres to be made available for oil and gas drilling without proper consideration given to endangered species.
“The BLM should be managing these wild areas for the rich wildlife diversity and recreational opportunities they provide,” said Dan Chu, director of the Sierra Club's Our Wild America campaign, “not for dirty fuels development on a giant scale.”
Recently in Ventura County, the Board of Supervisors approved a plan for new wells on an old conditional use permit that was issued about 30 years ago that never considered, examined or otherwise revealed that any data was collected regarding the impact of drilling on the endangered California Condor.
Earlier this year the Center for Biological Diversity filed a law suit against the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources alleging that DOGGR "has unlawfully failed to assess the alleged environmental hazards associated with an oil and gas production stimulation technique known as hydraulic fracturing."
And this year the BLM decided to halt lease sales for drilling on federal land throughout California following a federal court ruling that the BLM had violated the law in selling leases without proper environmental review taking place.
It would seem that again and again, the oil and gas industry, and State regulatory bodies move too quickly to line up drilling rights through leases, without proper environmental review as required by law. What kind of confidence does the public have in the industry and our local regulators if law suits are the only recourse to force environmental review?
“This citizen intervention is necessary because the Department of Interior is sending mixed messages to the public. On one day, the administration issues a statement that the Colorado River's critical water supply will be protected for people and habitat, and then on another day they announce the most carbon intensive mining practice on the planet can move forward,” said John Weisheit, conservation director with Living Rivers. “The two programs are not mutually beneficial. Interior has to protect the Colorado River, there is no other choice.”
In March the BLM amended 10 resource-management plans, making 687,600 acres available for oil shale leasing and 132,100 acres available for tar sands leasing. The agency refused to conduct formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered species, as required by the Endangered Species Act, despite acknowledging likely impacts to those species.
“The Endangered Species Act requires agencies to consult with the experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service when they know listed species will be impacted,” said Matt Sandler, a staff attorney at Rocky Mountain Wild. "BLM has skipped this step, which will push these species closer to extinction."
To read the full press release Click HERE