A U.S. District of Columbia federal judge has temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on thousands of acres of public land in Wyoming stating it was because of climate change.
Judge Rudolph Contreras issued the ruling stating that the Trump administration failed to “sufficiently consider climate change.” He found the U.S. Bureau of Land Management did not adequately assess the environmental impacts of drilling on the nearly 300,000 acres involved. The judge said the BLM did not study how each proposed drilling project might add to overall U.S. carbon emissions.
His is the first such ruling involving a decision to stop a project because climate change was not taken into consideration.
“Given the national, cumulative nature of climate change, considering each individual drilling project in a vacuum deprives the agency and the public of the context necessary to evaluate oil and gas drilling on federal land before irretrievably committing to that drilling,” he wrote.
An assessment of how drilling affects the environment is required under the National Environmental Policy Act. The lack of specificity in the bureau’s environmental assessment made it inadequate, Contreras, an Obama appointee, said.
“Climate change, and humanity’s ability to combat it, are increasingly prominent topics of public discourse. This case concerns the attention the government must give climate change when taking action that may increase its effects,” he wrote in his opinion.
The legal challenge was brought by two advocacy groups, WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility. The challenge involved Wyoming oil and gas lease sales held between May 2015 and August 2016, under the Obama administration