Judge suggests broad NEPA review for ‘federal fossil fuel program’

By Michael Doyle | 03/25/2024 01:30 PM EDT

As he upheld BLM’s actions, the U.S. District Court judge said that “there is wisdom in the conservation groups’ warnings” about the agency’s oil and gas leasing.

Wyoming oil and gas rig.

An oil and gas rig in Wyoming. Larry Zuckerman/BLM Wyoming

A federal judge acknowledged the “potentially existential threat” Friday posed by continued greenhouse gas emissions but concluded that wasn’t sufficient to block a bundle of Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sales.

In one of two BLM-related decisions issued on the same day, Judge Christopher Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the federal agency “reasonably exhausted available tools” and “did all that was required” to analyze the environmental consequences from lease sales in several Western states.

“While many observers may find that result unsatisfying, it was all that was required to comply with [federal law] in this ever-evolving scientific and regulatory landscape,” Cooper wrote.


But even as he upheld BLM’s actions, the Obama appointee added in a remarkable aside that “there is wisdom in the conservation groups’ warnings” about how the Interior Department has structured its fossil fuel program.