The Trump Administration hit a stone wall when the US District Court for the District of Montana invalidated 287 oil and gas leases on 145,063 acres of Montana land which the Trump Administration issued in 2017 and 2018.
Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, agreed with land owners and environmentalists that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to perform adequate analysis of the drilling’s impact on local water supplies and on climate change, the New York Times reported.
Judge Morris said, “The Court does not fault BLM for providing a faulty analysis of cumulative impacts or impacts to groundwater. It largely faults BLM for failing to provide any analysis.”
Earlier this year, the White House attempted to change provisions of the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which required not only analyses of the local effects of drilling, but of the cumulative effects of increased fossil fuel pollution on earth.
Elizabeth Forsyth, attorney with Earthjustice, which was involved in the case, told The Hill, “The oil rush on Montana’s public lands put generational rural landowners at risk of losing clean water and the sustainability of their communities. The Bureau of Land Management was well aware that current oil and gas drilling practices would not protect sources of drinking water in these Montana communities, but rushed the sale anyway.”
However, the BLM, in a prepared statement, said, “With all due respect, we disagree with the Court’s conclusion, and the BLM stands by its analysis in following the letter of the law to issue oil and gas leases in Montana.
“Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this dispute and despite the attempts of radical, special interest groups, the Department and the BLM will continue to work towards ensuring America’s energy independence while preserving a healthy environment,” The Hill reported.
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