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Activists ratchet up pressure on BLM over drilling on federal lands

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Activists ratchet up pressure on BLM over drilling on federal lands

Environmentalactivists in the Southwest are stepping up their efforts to prevent oil and gasdrilling on federal lands, going to court against U.S. Bureau of Land Managementactivities.

The lawsuit,filed by a number of groups, including the Western Environmental Law Center, seeksto block the BLM from allowing hydraulic fracturing on more than 20,000 acres ofland already auctioned off in New Mexico's Santa Fe National Forest.

The groupssaid the lease sale "perpetuates a dangerous pattern" of federal agenciesallowing hydraulic fracturing without a "true analysis" of modern frackingtechnologies.

"We'reseeing the same intellectually dishonest techniques here from the administrationas those used to green-light unstudied fracking in [New Mexico's] Greater Chacoregion," said Kyle Tisdel of the Western Environmental Law Center. "Thisis a clear attempt to circumvent meaningful environmental review for fossil fuelextraction on our public lands in northern New Mexico, consequences be damned."

SamanthaRuscavage-Barz, staff attorney for WildEarth Guardians, placed the blame on oiland gas producers instead of the Obama administration.

"Withthe Santa Fe National Forest being targeted for fracking, it's clear the oil andgas industry believes there is no place sacred in the American Southwest,"she said. "With our climate and our future at stake, we're taking a stand withthis lawsuit, and we sincerely hope the Obama administration reconsiders its decisionto sacrifice our public lands."

Anotheractivist group intends to take things a step further outside Denver on May 12, whenit protests the BLM's oil and gas lease auction in Lakewood, Colo. Keep It in theGround said in a statement that the group plans to engage in "peaceful disobedience"in an effort to prevent any drilling from taking place on federal lands.

"Groupsplan to rally … disobedience to demand that public lands be no longer drilled, minedor fracked," they said. "The protest is part of a global week of actionfocused on citizen action to keep fossil fuels in the ground and promote clean renewableenergy, and comes days after the Colorado Supreme Court denied local authority toregulate fracking."