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Environmentalists Challenge BLM Oil Grants in Yellowstone Valley

CASPER, Wyo. (CN) - Environmentalists have gone to Federal Court to challenge the Bureau of Land Management's grant of oil drilling concessions in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, just south of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, saying the concessions are "the densest oil and gas well-spacing anywhere in the country."

The Biodiversity Conservation Alliance filed an action in Federal Court, saying the BLM OK'd 64 to 128 wells per square mile, an extraordinarilly dense array of wells, in violation of the nation's environmental laws.

The BLM permits cover 28,580 acres of federal land, 1,280 acres of state land and 640 acres, and are known as the Jonah Infill Drilling Project Area, in Sublette County, Wyo.

Among the laws the BLM violates are the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Administrative Procedures Act, the Alliance says. It demands an injunction and costs, and that the BLM be ordered to give public notice before it tries it again. It is represented by Mary Ann Budenske.

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