Records sought in drilling proposal on Colorado refuge |

Records sought in drilling proposal on Colorado refuge

A water preservation group has filed a lawsuit seeking records on how the government handled a proposal for oil and gas exploration on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge.

Citizens for San Luis Valley ” Water Protection Coalition said it is trying to learn whether the Canadian company Lexam Energy Exploration had any influence over a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review of Lexam’s proposal to drill two test wells on the refuge.

The group’s lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, also named the Interior Department and the department’s Rocky Mountain region solicitor as defendants.

The coalition has been fighting Lexam’s proposal for test wells in the refuge, within two miles of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Fish and Wildlife is reviewing a draft environmental assessment of the proposal, along with public comments.

The coalition said Fish and Wildlife used a contractor, ENSR Corp., to prepare the draft. Messages left Friday for Fish and Wildlife, Lexam and ENSR were not immediately returned.

In December, the coalition filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to see communications between the Fish and Wildlife Service and Lexam or ENSR, and between Lexam and ENSR.

On April 1, Fish and Wildlife provided some documents but said other documents were still under review, according to the lawsuit. The coalition contends the agency is violating the Freedom of Information Act by not providing the other documents.

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