IPAA considering appeal of Montana drilling case

The Independent Petroleum Association of America is considering an appeal of a court ruling regarding drilling for oil and natural gas in Lewis & Clark National Forest of Montana. A Seattle federal appeals court said IPAA lacks standing to sue the US Forest Service. IPAA said it was evaluating whether to appeal to the US Supreme Court.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, May 11 -- The Independent Petroleum Association of America Friday said it is considering an appeal of a court ruling regarding drilling for oil and gas in Lewis & Clark National Forest of Montana.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Seattle on May 3 upheld a lower court that IPAA lacks standing to sue the US Forest Service.

IPAA had sued the Forest Service concerning its decision to withhold certain land from oil and gas leasing. Environmental groups had intervened in defense of the Forest Service.

The appeals court said the Forest Service has the discretionary power to withhold the land and IPAA has no "right" to bid for leases on such land. The absence of that right means IPAA suffered no injury from the decision, the court said.

The Mountain States Legal Foundation represented IPAA. No decision has been made on whether to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

"However, given that the ruling essentially says potential land users cannot appeal land use decisions made by the government, some sort of action is likely," an IPAA statement said.

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