The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently announced that it intends to cancel 25 oil and gas leases located in the White River National Forest. Although the BLM's draft environmental impact statement had recommended cancelling only 18 leases, the BLM stated that its preliminary preferred alternative was now to cancel all of the leases. The US Forest Service's recent oil and gas leasing plan would likewise ban oil and gas drilling in the White River National Forest.

Located in Colorado's Thompson Divide, the leases have been controversial and local groups and municipalities have opposed them since they were first issued during the Bush administration, citing threats to tourism, local agriculture and wildlife. Industry groups criticised the BLM's announcement, stating that the area contains prolific shale gas reserves that can be developed in an environmentally safe manner. The BLM is currently reviewing another 40 oil and gas leases in the forest outside of the Thompson Divide.

For further information on this topic please contact Roger Martella, Samuel Boxerman, Jim Wedeking or Joel Visser at Sidley Austin LLP by telephone (+1 202 736 8000) or email (rmartella@sidley.com, sboxerman@sidley.com, jwedeking@sidley.com or jvisser@sidley.com). The Sidley Austin LLP website can be accessed at www.sidley.com.

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