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A Roadmap to the Administrative Appeals Process

Laura Lindley, Proceedings of 34th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1988)

As the title of this paper suggests, its purpose is to serve as a practical guide to resolving disagreements with administrative agencies. The breadth of the topic precludes detailed analysis of any of the matters discussed below, and the reader is referred to the scholarly articles cited in the footnote for a more thorough analysis of some of the subjects briefly touched upon in this paper.1

Administrative law is peculiar in that, unlike many other aspects of the law, it is of interest only to lawyers (or at least to some of them). Federal lessees are interested not in the least in the administrative process, but only in their ability to use the public lands. With that thought in mind, this paper is premised on the belief that the client is best served when the formal administrative appeal process is avoided.

This paper will be limited to resolution of problems with federal agencies encountered by applicants for, and operators of, onshore federal oil and gas leases.2 It will first address the allocation of decision-making authority among the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Minerals Management Service (MMS), and the Forest Service. It will then review the process [14-3] for administrative appeal from an adverse decision of one of those agencies, and will conclude with a brief discussion of judicial review of an adverse final agency decision. Throughout,