Wednesday, June 20, 2018

N.M. federal judge says BLM must analyze 'downstream' impact of energy leasing on federal land, including climate

A federal judge in New Mexico has issued a ruling that, if upheld, could require the Bureau of Land Management to consider the "downstream" impacts of leasing federal land for oil and gas drilling, including "cumulative impacts on climate change of the use of the fuel produced," Brian Oswald reports for the Albuquerque Journal.

Senior U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo of Albuquerque set aside leases on more than 19,000 acres in the Santa Fe National Forest that the BLM approved in 2015, and ordered the agency "to conduct further analysis on environmental impact of the potential drilling," Oswald reports.

"The BLM had argued that only greenhouse-gas emissions from oil and gas exploration should be considered, not what happens when the fuel produced is actually used by consumers or industry down the line. The agency stated in its decision in favor of the leases that their 'incremental contribution' to greenhouse gas emissions 'cannot be translated into effects on climate change'."

But Armijo said federal law acknowledges that the impact of one such action "may be significant in combination with other actions," Oswald reports. "She also held that the BLM had failed to take an adequate look at how the national forest leases allowing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, would impact water quantities and the environment in general."

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