Federal court hearing set in refuge drilling suit | SummitDaily.com

Federal court hearing set in refuge drilling suit

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

DENVER ” A judge will soon decide whether federal authorities have done enough to hand over documents to an environmental group opposed to gas drilling in a national wildlife refuge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty has scheduled a contempt of court hearing May 8 against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its parent agency, the Interior Department, in the case of a FOIA request by the Citizens for San Luis Valley-Water Protection Coalition in drilling on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge.

The coalition claims the agencies haven’t fully complied with a court order to turn over documents sought under the federal Freedom of Information Act on the decision to allow drilling on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge in south-central Colorado.

The U.S. attorney’s office, representing the federal government, declined to comment Thursday on the allegations.

The environmental group opposes drilling on the refuge about 200 miles southwest of Denver. The group claims communications between a federal attorney and Toronto-based Lexam Explorations show favoritism by the government for the company disregard for public concerns.