A federal judge ruled late Tuesday that the Interior Department violated federal law by failing to take into account the climate impact of its oil and gas leasing in Wyoming, according to a report in The Washington Post.
The decision was handed down by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Rudolph Contreras, who concluded that Interior’s Bureau of Land Management “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when making decisions to auction off federal land in Wyoming to oil and gas drilling. As a result, the judge temporarily blocked drilling on roughly 300,000 acres of land in the state, according to The Post report.
The case was brought by two environmental advocacy groups, WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility. In the decision, Contreras faulted the agency’s environmental assessments as inadequate because it did not detail how individual drilling projects contributed to the nation’s overall carbon output. The judge wrote 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.
“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.
The Bureau of Land Management has not yet responded to the ruling.