The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Friday that it will pay an oil and gas company $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed after the agency, under the Obama administration in 2016, cancelled 18 leases to drill in the Thompson Divide area near Carbondale.
The government’s settlement, which will be finalized when Houston-based SG Interests receives the funds, means the leases cancellations, affecting 21,000 acres, will remain in effect.
The BLM cancelled the leases after a years-long effort led by multiple community groups that formed the Thompson Divide Coalition. The group challenged the validity of the leases and succeeded in spurring the BLM to reevaluate them, prompting the cancellation decision. That decision left some leases west of the Thompson Divide intact.
SG Interests sued in 2017, claiming the cancellation violated its property rights.
Peter Hart, an attorney with Wilderness Workshop, which intervened in the lawsuit to defend the lease cancellations along with Pitkin County, the North Thompson Cattle Association, Earthjustice, Colorado Trout Unlimited and the town of Carbondale, said “it’s just nice to have closure” on the matter.