Earthjustice: Salazar has authority to withdraw Roan Plateau leases

An attorney for Earthjustice Tuesday told the Associated Press that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar could deem nearly 55,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leases on the Roan Plateau illegal and invalidate them.

Last week Salazar ruled that out in an interview with the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, saying the leases sold in a record-setting auction last year that netted $114 million were too far along to withdraw.

But Michael Freeman, an attorney with Earthjustice, which represents a coalition of environmental groups challenging the leases, told the AP, “[Salazar] has the authority to recognize when his department has legal vulnerability.”

The environmental groups claim the BLM didn’t do enough analysis of the potential impacts of its proposed drilling plan, which calls for nearly 1,600 wells from nearly 200 pads over the next 20 years.

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