There is plenty of natural gas and oil to be had in these Western states. So what's the holdup?

Bureaucracy, according to one Montana judge.

The lease was purchased back in 1982. That's how long this has been going on.

The late Sidney Longwell fought an endless battle to get past the bureaucrats at the Department of the Interior (DOI).

After decades of red tape review and a long series of court battles, Sidney WON in his case—Solenex v. Haaland!

Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia had no kind words for government agencies as he reinstated the right to drill.

Enough with the bureaucracy, the judge ordered, let these people get to work.


But then came the Clinton Administration and ten years of delays of reviews. Then in 1993, and for no stated reason, the DOI locked down the lease indefinitely.

From there it the case was caught up in the bureaucratic review process.

Finally, in 2013 and with help from Mountain States Legal Foundation the DOI was taken to court where the agency lost, back in 2016.

So the DOI just canceled the lease, outright.

Sidney sued them again.

This is the second time that Judge Richard Leon has ruled against the DOI in Sidney’s case

Judges Gavel

Judge Leon had a few angry words for the federal government when he said the cancellation of the lease after three decades of delay was “arbitrary and capricious.” The judge then reinstates the lease.

WAIT! We are not done here. Back to court, we go.

An appellate court remanded the case back to the district level, declaring a delay was not sufficient grounds to declare a decision to cancel arbitrary and capricious.

Finally, on September 9, 2022, Judge Leon yet again penned the order to reinstate Sidney’s lease and permit!

Judge Leon wrote, “It is time to put an end to this interminable, and insufferable, bureaucratic chess match.” We couldn’t agree more.

Now we wait for the DOI’s reinstatement of Sidney’s lease—but in all likelihood, the agency will appeal.

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