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More info on the 77 cancelled oil and gas leases

DOI Secretary Salazar's own Inspector General reportedly exonerates the canceled 77 Utah oil and gas leases.

The US Department of Interior in the first few weeks of the Obama Administration abruptly canceled 77 Utah oil and gas leases sold at auction during the December, 2008 Utah Bureau of Land Management quarterly oil and gas sale.

This cancellation after the fact came as a shock to the citizens of Uintah County and all Utahns who depend heavily on the oil and gas industry. Uintah County and others sued DOI over this cancellation, claiming it was arbitrary and unlawful. DOI's excuse against the lawsuit is that the Bush Administration BLM supposedly committed wrongdoing that made the lease cancellation necessary.

DOI's excuse has been exposed as incorrect by none other than DOI Secretary Salazar's very own Inspector General, who issued a formal Inspector General Investigative Report sometime this year under case number OI-OG-09-0173-I. (IG Report).

Well placed confidential sources have read the IG Report. It has been verified with Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee that the report says the following:

1. No inappropriate action or any violation of any regulation, rule or policy occurred relating to the December, 2008 BLM oil and gas lease sale in Utah;

2. No inappropriate action or any violation of any regulation, rule or policy occurred relating to any of the six BLM revised resource management plans in Utah, and;

3. Allegations of political influence over these events were not supported in the course of the investigation. The Federal Judge hearing the case on July 21 should see the IG Report, because it undercuts the sincerity of DOI's criticism of the 77 cancelled leases. Uintah County has sought a copy of the IG Report, both informally from DOI's lawyers and formally through a Freedom of Information Act request made to BLM and the DOI Inspector General. Neither has responded thus far, though the requests are still pending.

Uintah County publicly calls upon the White House, the Department of Justice, and DOI Secretary Ken Salazar to reveal the IG Report now.

The courts and the public deserve to know how the cancelled 77 Utah oil and gas leases, which the Obama Administration chose to criticize to justify its unlawful cancellation, were cleared of any wrongdoing by Secretary Salazar's very own Inspector General.

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