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Petroleum Association of Wyoming intervenes in U.S. District Court case on drilling permits

GILLETTE, Wyo. — The Petroleum Association of Wyoming today sought to intervene in a case pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The case, Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians v United States Department of Interior, et. al, concerns drilling on federal lands.

Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians, the plaintiffs, have challenged the federal agencies’ issuance of more than 3,535 applications for permit to drill for oil and gas in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin and New Mexico’s Permian Basin. The plaintiffs said the approvals violate the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the groups’ complaint to the court said.

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming’s members hold nearly all of the 809 Wyoming drilling permits in question, according to a Petroleum Association of Wyoming news release. Of the 809 permits in question, 478 are on lands managed by the Buffalo Field Office while the rest are on Casper Field Office lands, the complaint to the court said.

Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians want the court to declare that the challenged permits violate the three laws and to enjoy the agencies from approving any applications for permits to drill on federal public lands and minerals until they have complied with the National Environmental Policy Act and its implementing regulations and the other two laws’ substantive provisions, their complaint said.

Petroleum Association of Wyoming President Pete Obermueller said in the release that vacating the issued permits and stopping the BLM from issuing any new permits to drill would “strangle” Wyoming’s oil and natural gas industry.

“While their legal arguments are weak, the callous disregard for Wyoming’s hardworking energy families shown by the plaintiffs prompted PAW to intervene on behalf of those families and the industry that fuels Wyoming’s economy,” he said.

The association said it encourages President Joe Biden to discuss America’s energy potential and work with it to lower gas prices and increase the country’s energy independence.

The association’s members produce 90% of Wyoming’s oil and gas and employ more than 19,000 Wyomingites.