From E&E News (subscription required):
A federal judge last week issued a stern warning to land regulators from the Interior Department as they aim to bolster climate analyses for a set of Western oil and gas leases.
While Judge Rudolph Contreras for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia declined requests by environmentalists to stop oil and gas development on legally embattled acreage in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, he left the door open for the green groups to file an amended complaint.
Contreras said he “will not hesitate” to suspend drilling authorizations later if he finds the Bureau of Land Management has handed back inadequate supplementation of its National Environmental Policy Act reviews.
“Any such investments in resources by BLM, or private oil interests for that matter, may prove foolhardy if BLM’s new decisions are subsequently vacated rather than remanded,” Contreras, an Obama appointee, wrote in a Friday opinion.
The judge’s order stems from a lawsuit by WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility challenging BLM’s NEPA analysis to support Obama-era lease sales spanning 460,000 acres in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. …”We remain deeply committed to holding BLM accountable for its failed climate decisionmaking,” said Kyle Tisdel, head of the Western Environmental Law Center’s climate and energy program