Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Judge rejects sale of public lands for fracking, halts drilling in Wyoming

"[The] agency must consider the cumulative impact of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions generated by past, present, or reasonably foreseeable BLM lease sales in the region and nation.”

Image credit: U.S. Bureau of Land Management, public domain

The sale of public lands for fracking and the drilling on hundreds of thousands of its acres was rejected by a federal judge. U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that the Department of the Interior failed to consider the consequences oil and gas leasing would have on the climate.

According to a press release, the Department “did not adequately quantify the climate change impacts of oil and gas leasing,” which is a direct violation to federal environmental laws. The case, which was comprised of “more than 460,000 acres of public lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming that were leased to the oil and gas industry in 2015 and 2016,” directly addressed 303,000 acres of leasing in Wyoming first, the press release stated. But the ruling “has implications for public lands across the American West and is a major rebuke to the Trump administration’s anti-environment, anti-climate agenda,” according to a press release.

“[The] agency must consider the cumulative impact of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions generated by past, present, or reasonably foreseeable BLM lease sales in the region and nation,” Judge Contreras said.

The lawsuit was initially brought about in 2016 by WildEarth Guardians, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Western Environmental Law Center to hold the Department responsible for “the climate consequences of selling public lands for fracking in the American West.”

In what’s being called a victory for the climate and the protection of public lands, the ruling “reinforces that the oil and gas industry doesn’t get a free pass to pollute.”

“Fracked gas is dangerous for people and terrible for the climate,” Barbara Gottlieb, Environment and Health Program director for Physicians for Social Responsibility, said. “This latest court win is not only a victory for our health and future, but it reinforces that the oil and gas industry doesn’t get a free pass to pollute.”

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