S. Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Palma, No. 11-4094 (10th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Several environmental groups challenged decisions made by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) regarding the legality of thirty-nine oil and gas leases in Southern Utah, owned by Kirkwood Oil and Gas, LLC and William C. Kirkwood. In the 1980s, Kirkwood applied to have its oil and gas leases converted to combined hydrocarbon leases, which would allow Kirkwood to extract oil from tar sands. At the time, BLM never accepted or rejected Kirkwood's applications. Between 2006 and 2008, BLM and IBLA issued several decisions declaring that the underlying oil and gas leases were "suspended" pending review of the conversion applications. The groups alleged that the BLM and IBLA violated the Mineral Leasing Act and other federal laws by retroactively deeming the leases to be suspended, avoiding expiration of the leases according to their terms. The district court held the groups did not have standing to bring its claims and dismissed the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Although the district court misapplied the law in important respects with regard to standing, the Tenth Circuit ultimately held that this case was not ripe for review.