Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment, the Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardian, and other environmental and indigenous groups have filed a suit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for approving over 250 oil and gas drilling permits in New Mexico without conducting any environmental reviews.
The groups allege that in the 255 permits approved by the BLM between 2016 and now, the bureau “did not conduct any analysis of fracking’s impacts on the environment,” and therefore completely failed to consider the environmental and public health impacts of fracking.
Rather than conduct environmental reviews, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the BLM relied on information from an out of date environmental impact statement that was issued as part of a resource management plan and does not accurately discuss the effects of hydraulic fracking on the environment.
“BLM’s attempts to tier to the 2003 EIS were arbitrary and capricious because that EIS never analyzed the impacts of fracking in the Mancos Shale,” the groups said. “BLM has done no analysis of environmental impacts from this extraction technology being currently employed in the Mancos Shale.”
The area in question is the Greater Chaco Landscape in New Mexico. A previous suit, filed in 2015, resulted in a Tenth Circuit panel ruling that the BLM had indeed violated the NEPA in the 350 permits in question. However, the court failed on the follow-through, only sending a handful of drilling permits back for environmental review.
The groups are asking that all drilling allowed under the 255 permits cease until the case is complete.
The Trump administration has been aggressively pushing fracking since Trump was sworn into office. In May the administration announced its plans to open up more than 1 million additional acres of public and private land in California alone to fracking. Meanwhile, environmental groups are fighting back against the thousands of rushed approvals for drilling permits all over the country.
The fracking push is “symptomatic of a broader assault on our public lands by the Trump administration,” said Daniel Timmons, an attorney for WildEarth Guardians.
“All across the West, the Trump administration is trying to sell off public lands for oil, gas, and coal extraction, putting the immediate financial interests of big oil and big coal above the long-term needs of local communities for clean air, drinkable water, and a stable climate.”