North Fork Valley federal lawsuit seeks end to secret oil, gas land nomination process

Two groups filed a lawsuit (pdf) in federal court this week to learn the identities of the individuals or corporations who nominated 30,000 acres in the North Fork Valley for oil and gas drilling.

The nominated parcels in the North Fork Valley — home to one of the highest concentrations of organic farms in Colorado and one of just two designated wine regions in the state — were included in the BLM’s oil and gas auction this August but they were deferred due to fierce public opposition.

A proposed drilling area in the North Fork Valley. (Image: Big B's Apple Juice)
“The public has a right to know which companies are nominating our public lands for oil and gas development,” Jim Ramey, director of Citizens for a Healthy Community, said in a press release. “This is just another example of how the government bends over backward to protect the interests of an industry with deep pockets instead of interests of the public.”

Federal officials have said the practice of keeping nominators’ names secret until after a lease is auctioned protects the process against unfair competition between potential bidders.