Environmental Groups Seek To Halt Oil And Gas Leasing

Jul 7, 2017

Public Lands in Wyoming
Credit Bob Wick, BLM / Bureau of Land Management

Environmental groups filed a brief in federal court last Friday to halt oil and gas leasing on select public lands in Wyoming. They say development on that public land should stop there until the amount of greenhouse gases and their effect on the climate are fully understood.   

WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility submitted the brief as a part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging the auction of 400,000 acres of public land in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. With this move, the organizations are hoping to undo existing leases in that area as well as stop any future auctions there.

WildEarth Guardian’s Jeremy Nichols said federal agencies aren’t considering the environmental risks of new drilling.

“Part of this is getting the agency to acknowledge the problem, if they don’t acknowledge it, they’re not going to solve it. This case is about spurring solutions to climate change,” Nichols said.

Nichols added there’s a new urgency to their lawsuit, which was filed last August, as the Department of the Interior has expressed interest in auctioning off more public land for drilling. 

He said, “We’re seeing a move to lift what they perceive as obstacles to new oil and gas developments on public lands. It’s more critical than ever to get some resolution on this.”

Industry groups say if the lawsuit prevails, it would deprive the public of new income.