U.S. BLM restarts coal-bed methane permitting

BUFFALO, Wyo., July 16, 2003 — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is again issuing coal-bed methane permits after a delay because of an environmental study and some lawsuits.

The BLM’s Buffalo Field Office issued at least one permit Monday for coalbed methane drilling in the Powder River Basin, and will issue 30 or more by the end of the week, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The BLM on April 30 released environmental impact statements on coalbed methane drilling in the area, followed by lawsuits from groups concerned about the effect on the environment.

The Wyoming state Attorney General and the U.S. Justice Department interceded in mid-June to help speed the cases.

As many as 2,000 applications are awaiting approval, according to the BLM.

The environmental impact statements permit companies to drill a total of 66,000 wells across Powder River Basin.