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Family-Owned Energy Company Argues Illegal Cancellation of Its Leases

Apr 16, 2018 | by William Perry Pendley

Mountain States Legal Foundation battles for the property rights of a small Colorado company subjected to bad faith dealing by federal agencies.   

DENVER, CO.  On Friday, WillSource Enterprise LLC, a small family-owned oil and gas company located in Denver, argued in Colorado federal district court that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) illegally and retroactively cancelled three valid leases to prevent energy development in the White River National Forest in western Colorado.  In an opening brief in its lawsuit WillSource alleges that the BLM operated in bad faith, purposefully delayed administrative decisions for months, and then arbitrarily and retroactively took illegal action to prevent WillSource from exercising its right to use its property.  Mountain States Legal Foundation Attorney Christian Corrigan who filed the brief said, “By playing regulatory ‘hide-the-ball’ the BLM made it impossible for a responsible operator like WillSource to exercise its property rights.”

In 1996, WillSource was issued eight oil and gas west of Thompson Creek Divide.  Over the decades, WillSource, which is owned by Reed Williams of Denver, worked diligently to comply with the various and everchanging requests and requirements of the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, and State and local entities, as well as responding to protests from environmental groups that oppose any energy development in the White River National Forest.  In 2012, while the company patiently waited for the regulatory process to conclude before developing its three remaining undeveloped leases, the BLM informed WillSource that those leases had been cancelled in 2009 and had expired two years later in November of 2011.  This came as a complete surprise to Reed Williams who had been in constant contact with BLM and Forest Service officials and employees about his leases.  In fact, the BLM and other agencies had continued to treat all eight of WillSource’s leases as valid existing leases in their meetings and as well as in their official documents.  In fact, the federal government continued billing WillSource through 2015 for its annual payments on the wells capable of energy production, which included the three cancelled leases.

“What happened to Reed should happen to no one.  He endured a nightmare of ever-changing demands, policies, and rulings in his efforts to satisfy the agencies all to no avail,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation.

Mountain States Legal Foundation, created in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system.  Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.

For more information:  WillSource Enterprise LLC v. Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA)

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