Oil leasing dispute heads to federal court

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Attorneys for the government and the oil industry will square off against environmental groups Friday in federal court in Montana in a dispute over greenhouse-gas emissions from oil and gas drilling.

The Montana Environmental Information Center and two other groups want U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon to cancel Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leases covering almost 80,000 acres in Montana.

They argue the agency did not fairly consider that greenhouse gas emissions from drilling activities could make climate change worse.

The BLM counters that the emissions from machinery and the venting of excess natural gas are insignificant.

Several industry groups have intervened in the case. They say the environmentalists behind the 2011 lawsuit cannot prove they suffered any specific harm from the lease sales.

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