A federal judge has rejected an effort by environmental groups to stall oil and gas development in northwestern New Mexico while they fight the approval of dozens of drilling permits issued over the past two years by a federal agency.
U.S. District Judge James Browning issued his ruling late Friday. An environmental group said Monday it plans to appeal.
The judge said the groups put forth enough evidence to cast doubt on the thoroughness of permit decisions made by the Bureau of Land Management but did not provide enough evidence to show the agency failed to take a hard look at the environmental effects of its actions.
The judge also said the preliminary injunction sought by the groups would not be in the public interest.
“The public would gain more from reaping the gains — an influx of jobs and capital and an increase in royalties paid to the state and federal governments — from opening up the Mancos Shale formation to economically viable drilling now, rather than waiting until the resolution of this case,” Browning wrote.