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Groups Look for a Stop Sign on Adobe Town Drilling

May 7, 2010

RAWLING, Wyo. - Red Desert drilling plans are headed for the courtroom. Several conservation groups have filed a federal lawsuit over the BLM's recent Rawlins Resource Management Plan, which sets guidelines for how lands in the district will be used and maintained. That plan opened 97 percent of the area to oil and gas leasing, including in Adobe Town and along the Kinney Rim. These are two areas public comments, and even state officials, overwhelmingly supported keeping off-limits to development.

Erik Molvar, executive director of the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (BCA), calls it an extreme example of handing over public lands to the oil and gas industry. BCA is involved in the lawsuit.

"This is a remarkably unbalanced plan and leaves places like Adobe Town wide open to drilling and industrial sacrifice."

Molvar claims environmental damage and air pollution associated with drilling also weren't fully examined. The BLM called the Rawlins plan 'balanced" when it was released. Molvar says it is within the court's power to issue an injunction to stop those leases until the case can be considered.

Rock Springs City Council member Joyce Corcoran says, with the economic downturn hitting oil and gas prices, she's convinced the region needs to diversify its income. She's looking to the tourism potential of an unspoiled Adobe Town to provide a new source of income.

"As a city council member, my concern is travel and tourism becoming part of our sustainable economy. Adobe Town could become a real attraction because it is that kind of a place."

Drilling leases for the area are scheduled to be offered next week. Groups involved in the lawsuit include Natural Resources Defense Council, The Wilderness Society, Wyoming Wilderness Association, and Wyoming Outdoor Council.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY