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Groups push to protect wild areas after oil and gas leases voided

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 By Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO, Contact
December 4, 2006

Boulder, CO - Conservation groups say they'll push for permanent protection after a federal judge last week voided nearly 100 oil and gas leases in Colorado's National Forest lands. The Bush administration had suspended the Clinton-era "Roadless Rule" to issue more than 300 new oil and gas leases in roadless areas nationwide, but U.S. District Judge Elizabeth LaPorte has overruled the Administration, both on the Roadless Rule expansion and the new leases.

Sierra Club Regional Representative Roger Singer explains, the decision means a reprieve for several wild areas in the state that were about to be changed forever.

"Of the 84 projects that have just been canceled by this decision, probably the one that was closest to completion was a drilling permit in the Colorado White River National Forest."

The voided leases would have affected more than 80,000 acres of wilderness across the state. Singer says he's now hoping for further, more permanent protections.

"While the Roadless Rule is a good interim protection, federal wilderness designation still is the best level of protection for wildlife habitat, recreation and clean drinking water."

According to Singer, Congress is currently considering permanent protection for Brown's Canyon, west of Colorado Springs.

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