The Bureau of Land Management is doing its part for national energy security. In mid-April, the agency announced its new policy for approving oil and gas permits. Now, the BLM will simultaneously process multiple permits with similar characteristics, instead of evaluating and providing environmental analysis for each one (HCN, 4/14/03: Grass roots prevail in ANWR and Wyoming). The hunt is still on: Even though black bear numbers are dropping, the New Mexico Game Commission has decided to keep its 2003-2004 bear-hunting season on track (HCN, 9/30/02: It's open season on New Mexico's bears). The commission did not want to cancel the hunt because outfitters have already booked thousands of dollars worth of guided hunts in the state.



Water from coalbed methane wells is indeed "industrial waste" - this according to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court agreed with the Northern Plains Resource Council that the state of Montana must regulate the wastewater under the Clean Water Act and cannot allow drillers to dump the waste into rivers (HCN, 10/28/02: Judges rule gas leases are illegal).



The state of Colorado is determined to get water from remote parts of the state to drought-stricken cities like Denver and Colorado Springs. A new agreement brokered by the Interior Department gives the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park year-round rights to only 300 cubic feet per second, and allows the state to buy the remaining water rights (HCN, 6/7/99: Black Canyon National Park?). The meager amount to be left in the river - spring floods normally run around 3,000 cfs - has environmental groups worried.



The Interior Department's number-two man, Stephen Griles, seems to be confused about who he's working for. In September 2001, two months after his confirmation, Griles took part in meetings that resulted in the Bush administration paying Chevron USA Inc. $46 million to abandon a gas project off the coast of Florida. Before joining Interior, Griles had worked as a lobbyist for Chevron. As a condition of his Senate confirmation, he had promised to stay out of issues involving his former employer for one year.