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2019-03-22. Judge Blocks Oil and Gas Leases on Public Land, Citing Climate Change.

posted Mar 29, 2019, 12:14 PM by Alan Gould
By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/judge-blocks-oil-and-gas-leases-on-public-land-citing-climate-change] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9 and Energy Use chapter 3. Excerpt: In a court ruling Tuesday, 19 March, a federal judge temporarily halted oil and gas leases on 300,000 acres (1,200 square kilometers) of public lands in Wyoming because the sale of the leases “did not sufficiently consider climate change.” The Obama administration had auctioned off the land in 2015 and 2016 for oil and gas exploration. The court decision pauses these sales and orders the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to redo its environmental assessment. “This decision is hugely significant,” Noel Healy, a professor of geography at Salem State University in Massachusetts, told Eos. “It could be used to challenge Trump’s plans to further fossil fuel production across the U.S.” ...“The Department of [the] Interior and BLM were willfully ignoring the climate consequences of oil and gas development across hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands,” Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, managing attorney for WildEarth Guardians and one of the plaintiffs in the case, told Eos. “We wanted to hold BLM accountable for its decisions to sacrifice public lands for dirty oil and gas.” Wyoming senator Mike Enzi (R) called the ruling “a shortsighted decision” that would “damage our workforce and economy” and set a “dangerous precedent for the future.” ...The ruling pointed out a “critical flaw” in fossil fuel leasing, said Healy. BLM is required to evaluate the environmental impacts of the leases under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), but the agency failed to account for emissions from future oil and gas extraction and their impact on climate change. BLM argued that site-specific assessments completed later would take the emissions into account, but the judge ruled that this was inadequate given the “cumulative nature of climate change.” ...It would simply be irresponsible to not consider the future consequences of our actions....