Court Says API Cannot Intervene in BLM Lease Case

The request by the American Petroleum Institute to intervene in a lawsuit by environmental groups against the Bureau of Land Management was denied.

The August 9 ruling, by Judge Paul S. Grewal of the Federal District Court in San Jose, left open the opportunity for the API to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the future.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club are suing the BLM over several lease sales in September of 2011 and December of 2012 totaling about 20,500 acres of land federal land in Monterey, Fresno and San Benito counties.

The environmental groups argue that, before issuing the leases, the BLM should have prepared an “Environmental Impact Statement” about potential effects of hydraulic fracturing in the Monterey Shale play. The two sides are now in settlement talks.

The API wanted to intervene on behalf of Vintage Production California, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum. The judge ruled the trade association did not have legal standing to intervene. But he said the API still has the “ability to offer an industry perspective of fracking that could aid the court” via a friend-of-the-court brief if the case progresses to trial.

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