Lawsuit targets Colorado oil and gas drilling permits

By Niina H. Farah | 06/12/2024 06:33 AM EDT

The Center for Biological Diversity says the Interior Department is allowing “unchecked extraction” of federally owned oil and gas from private and state land.

A conservation group is asking a federal court in Colorado to crack down on the U.S. government’s approval of drilling permits that allow developers to extract publicly owned oil and gas from wells on nearby private and state lands.

The problem is that this type of well — known as a Fee/Fee/Fed well — is not subject to the same federal oversight as other drilling approvals from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, the Center for Biological Diversity contends in a new lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

“This unchecked extraction of publicly owned minerals threatens significant harm to Colorado communities and natural resources,” the conservation group said.


Fee/Fee/Fed wells are particularly common in Colorado, and they are made possible by directional drilling, which allows developers to extract minerals from well pads on adjacent private or state lands. The Center for Biological Diversity’s lawsuit challenges three recent approvals of 26 applications for permits to drill, or APDs, in northeastern Colorado.