Wyoming Joins Suits Aiming to Continue Oil and Gas Lease Sales in Wyoming
Governor Mark Gordon announced in a press release that Wyoming is filing a motion to intervene in a pair of cases that were filed in June 2022 over the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oil and gas lease sale.
Wyoming is joining the BLM and other states to defend the lease sale from advocacy groups alleging that the BLM's lease sale violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
The groups, the Wilderness Society and Friends of the Earth, say in their filing that the BLM failed to address the impacts that the lease sale of around 120,000 acres for oil and gas development in Wyoming would have on underground aquifers, wildlife, and accelerating climate change.
Gordon said in the release:
"Wyoming is committed to defending her interests and her industries in the courts when they are threatened," Gordon said. "It is sad that every lease sale now leads to a challenge, and that NEPA has become little more than a meal ticket for litigious special interest groups."
When President Joe Biden took office, he signed an executive order that halted any new oil and gas lease sales, however, that order was overturned last November by a federal judge, and a new lease sale took place in June.
Wyoming argues in both briefings that the state would make a lot of money from the oil and gas sales, getting around $6 million in revenue and that the lease sales account for environmental impacts.
The suit states:
"The EA for the June 2022 Wyoming lease sale considered the potential impacts that the action may have on the State’s wildlife including the Greater Sage Grouse and big game species...The Commission has similarly adopted a comprehensive regulatory program for regulating hydraulic fracturing to protect the State’s groundwater."
In the second case, Wyoming joined Montana, Oklahoma, and Utah to argue it would suffer harm if the case succeeds because of the $6 million in lost revenue and because the BLM has not held enough legally required lease sales.
That case, which was filed on June 28, involves a complaint filed by 10 different advocacy groups, including the Dakota Resource Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens for a Healthy Community, Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper, the Montana Environmental Information Center, Rio Grande Riverkeeper, the Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance, the Western Watershed Project, and the Wildearth Guardians.
They argue that climate change is causing large amounts of damage to the planet, and that "Federal Defendants also admit that their Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Program contributes significantly to the global climate crisis, and that the Lease Sales at issue here will collectively cause billions of dollars in social and environmental harm to people and the planet."