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Aug. 12, 2022

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Oil, gas leases canceled over sage grouse

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BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge has canceled more than $125 million in oil and gas leases on public lands that are home to the declining bird species greater sage grouse, in a ruling that said the Trump administration illegally curtailed public comment.

The ruling doesn’t prevent the administration from selling the leases at a later date. But opponents hope the delay can help them make the case that drilling should not be allowed in areas with sage grouse.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush’s order out of Boise, Idaho, covers leases issued by the federal Bureau of Land Management in 2018 on more than 1,300 square miles in Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said millions of dollars that the state received from the sales already has been incorporated into its budget. He said the cancellation was “‘unworkable” and urged the administration to challenge the order.

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