Oil and natural gas wells continue to sprout across the West, pushing environmentalists to file thousands of lawsuits to stop drilling on public land.

"The truth is the Bush administration is issuing oil and gas permits on our public lands at a record rate. Gas production in the Rockies has never been higher," said Suzanne Jones of the Wilderness Society (search).

Officials at the Justice Department (search) say a record number of lawsuits — about 7,100 currently — are being litigated by the Environment and Natural Resources Division. Energy producers argue that any litigation delay, even by one year, has a profound effect on production.

"The fact that the environmental groups have so successfully worked the litigation element into the regulatory process is proven today by the high oil and gas prices we're seeing both at the gas pump and in the natural gas sector," said Mark Sexton of Evergreen Resources (search).

But environmentalists say they won't stop until they get what they're pushing for.

Click on the video box at the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Carol McKinley.