A United States judge has temporarily halted hundreds of drilling projects for failing to take climate change into account.
Drilling had been stalled on more than 300,000 acres of public land in Wyoming after it was ruled the Trump administration violated environmental laws by failing to consider greenhouse gas emissions.
The federal judge has ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages US public lands and issues leases to the energy industry, to redo its analysis.
The agency “did not adequately quantify the climate change impacts of oil and gas leasing”, said Rudolph Contreras, a US district judge in Washington DC
The decision is the first significant check on the climate impact of the Trump administration’s “energy-first” agenda that has opened up vast swaths of public land for mining and drilling.
Environmental advocates are praising the move, with Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program director, calling it a “triumph for our climate”.
This ruling says that the entire oil & gas drilling program is off the rails, and moving forward illegally. Under Trump, the pace of leasing public lands for oil and gas development has surged.
The vast majority are located in the western states of Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
Nichols predicts there will be implications for public lands across the Western USA. His group is now poised to bring litigation to block drilling on hundreds of thousands of acres in other states.
With the science mounting that we need to aggressively rein in greenhouse gases, this ruling is monumental,” said Kyle Tisdel, attorney and energy and communities program director for the Western Environmental Law Center.
Every acre of our public land sold to the oil and gas industry is another blow to the climate, making this ruling a powerful reality check on the Trump administration and a potent tool for reining in climate pollution.
The Guardian / ABC Flash Point News 2019.