Description: Challenge to federal actions authorizing oil and gas development in the Bull Mountain Unit in the Colorado River basin.
Citizens for a Healthy Community v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 12/10/2019 Order Download Order issued remanding case to agencies for further analysis of reasonably foreseeable indirect impacts of oil and gas, suspending all approved Applications for Permits to Drill (APDs), and enjoining issuance of additional APDs. Colorado Federal Court Let Authorizations for Oil and Gas Development Remain in Place While Agencies Conducted Analysis of Indirect Impacts. The federal district court for the District of Colorado declined to vacate federal actions authorizing oil and gas development in the Bull Mountain Unit in the Colorado River basin. The court—which in March 2019 found that the federal agencies erred in failing to consider the foreseeable indirect effects resulting from combustion of oil and gas—said vacatur was not warranted because the defendants prevailed on all but one of the eight issues raised by the plaintiffs and vacatur “would undoubtedly be somewhat disruptive” to intervenor-defendants who had spent 10 years in the approval process for proposed oil and gas operations. The court instead remanded to the federal defendants for further analysis and suspended approved Applications for Permits to Drill (APDs) and barred approval of additional APDs pending completion of the analysis. 03/27/2019 Memorandum Opinion and Order Download Memorandum opinion and order issued identifying some deficiencies in NEPA analysis. Colorado Federal Court Said NEPA Required Consideration of Foreseeable Oil and Gas Combustion Impacts but Upheld Other Aspects of Review. The federal district court for the District of Colorado ruled that greenhouse gas emissions from combustion of oil and natural gas should have been considered in the environmental review for BLM and the U.S. Forest Service actions authorizing oil and gas development in the Bull Mountain Unit in the Colorado River basin, but rejected other challenges to the agencies’ analysis of climate change-related impacts. The court found that the agencies erred in failing to consider the foreseeable indirect effects resulting from combustion of oil and gas, rejecting arguments that calculating greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of oil and natural gas would be too speculative and that the defendants’ approval of a master development plan for land owned by defendant-intervenors within the Unit would not affect the intervenors’ ability to develop oil and gas resources. The court found, however, that the agencies had taken “an appropriately hard look” at cumulative climate change impacts and that the defendants were not required to perform a cost-benefit analysis using the social cost of carbon. The court also largely upheld other aspects of the agencies’ NEPA review, except for its evaluation of cumulative impacts on mule deer and elk. 01/16/2018 Complaint Download First amended complaint and petition for review of agency action filed.