Thursday, March 21, 2019

Interior must halt drilling in Wyoming and redo environmental impact assessments, D.C. judge rules

Map by The Washington Post; click to enlarge it
"A federal judge ruled late Tuesday that the Interior Department violated federal law by failing to take into account the climate impact of its oil and gas leasing in the West," Juliet Eilperin reports for The Washington Post. "The decision by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras of Washington could force the Trump administration to account for the full climate impact of its energy-dominance agenda, and it could signal trouble for the president’s plan to boost fossil fuel production across the country." Environmental groups WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility filed the lawsuit.

Contreras, an Obama appointee, temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on about 300,000 Wyoming acres that the Bureau of Land Management leased out in 2015. Drilling could resume if the BLM completes adequate assessments on the land to see how much each drilling project would contribute to the nation's carbon output. That information is required under the National Environmental Policy Act, since drilling releases greenhouse gases, which are the main driver of climate change, Contreras wrote. The ruling could affect drilling on federal land throughout the West, Eilperin reports.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement that the state might appeal the ruling: "Our country’s efforts to reduce carbon should not center on the livelihoods of those committed workers and industries who seek to provide reliable and affordable energy, especially when we don’t look to the detrimental effects of other expansive industries. Bringing our country to its knees is not the way to thwart climate change."

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