GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) – A federal appeals court ruling upholding a 2001 rule protecting national forest roadless areas is raising doubts about the status of oil and gas leases issued while the court case was pending.

According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, environmentalists say leases covering 70,000 acres were issued in Colorado roadless areas since 2001 without provisions to prevent road building. The group says there are about 300 such leases nationwide that are now in question.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a 2001 rule prohibiting commercial development on about 50 million acres in national forests.

The Thompson Divide Coalition is trying to keep drilling out of some 220,000 acres west of Carbondale and between Glenwood Springs and McClure Pass.

The U.S. Forest Service did not respond.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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