Landmark climate change ruling halts hundreds of gas and oil drilling projects
A U.S. district judge just set President Donald Trump and his administration back with after a ruling that stopped hundreds of drilling projects because none of accounted for climate change during the planning phases. Apparently, skipping the climate change question during planning is not only a violation of Mother Nature but the law as well.
The case began in 2016 when three different groups including the Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Western Environmental Law Center, and WildEarth Guardians decided to sue the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) because it didn’t account for climate change issues when issuing permits for various oil and gas projects. More specifically, for failing “to calculate and limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from future oil and gas projects.”
This landmark ruling resulted in halted projects in Wyoming on over 300,000 acres of public land, according to the report. The director of the WildEarth Guardians’ climate and energy program, Jeremy Nichols, said the group will attempt to block this week’s lease auctions on 511,000 acres. The government hopes to lease the land to companies looking to explore for oil and gas.
According to the Washington Post, the judge wrote that the BLM was negligent in its environmental assessments, as they didn’t:
“…Detail how individual drilling projects contribute to the nation’s overall carbon output. Since greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change … these analyses did not provide policymakers and the public with a sufficient understanding of drilling’s impact, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.”
As a result, the judge ordered that the BLM must analyze the impact of the projects on climate change again before the projects can continue.
The president of another defendant in the case, Kathleen Sgamma from the Western Energy Alliance, disagrees with the ruling and believes on appeal, it will be overturned. She said:
“This judge has ignored decades of legal precedent in this ruling. The judge is basically asking BLM to take a while guess o how many wells will be developed on leases, prematurely.”
Wyoming’s Governor Mark Gordon (R) is not happy with the ruling, noting that he believes that the United States’ quest to reduce the country’s carbon footprint has a negative effect on the “livelihoods of those committed workers and industries” that already try to do so, while providing “reliable and affordable energy.”
He also suggested that the judge is picking on the oil and gas industry by not looking at other “expansive industries” that could have similar detrimental effects on climate change. Gov. Gordon is looking into the state’s options and it is highly likely that he will instruct state lawyers to appeal the judge’s decision.
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