Description: Challenge to lifting of moratorium on federal coal leasing and cessation of programmatic environmental review of leasing program.
Citizens for Clean Energy v. U.S. Department of Interior
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/02/2017 Order Download Motion to consolidate granted. 05/31/2017 Motion Download Motion to consolidate filed. 03/29/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuit Filed Challenging Repeal of Federal Coal Leasing Moratorium. Seven environmental organizations and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Montana challenging the Secretary of the Interior’s decisions to repeal the moratorium on federal coal leasing and to abandon an ongoing programmatic environmental review of the coal leasing program. The Obama administration imposed the moratorium and commenced the review in January 2016. The plaintiffs alleged that the Secretary of the Interior’s actions violated the National Environmental Policy Act because they would allow new coal leasing to occur without a review of the leasing program’s impacts, including climate impacts caused by the burning of coal. The complaint alleged that U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had completed the original programmatic environmental review of the leasing program in 1979 “at a time when the threat of climate change had not yet been fully realized or understood” and that BLM had never undertaken “a review of whether it can continue its coal leasing program and fulfill its climate commitments, as well as its land-stewardship obligations that are placed in jeopardy by a changing climate.” The plaintiffs contended that the repeal of the moratorium was a major federal action requiring a programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) or, alternatively, that new information about climate change since 1979 required the preparation of a supplemental programmatic EIS.
California v. Zinke
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/25/2017 Order Download Order issued granting Wyoming motion to intervene. Montana Federal Court Allowed Wyoming to Intervene in Challenge to Lifting of Coal Leasing Moratorium. The federal district court for the District of Montana granted the State of Wyoming’s motion to intervene in a lawsuit brought by four states to challenge the Department of the Interior’s lifting of the Obama administration’s moratorium on the federal coal leasing program. The court said Wyoming met the standard for intervention as of right because it contained a number of coal leases affected by the moratorium and because it occupied a different position than the United States due to its “unique interests as a high volume coal producing state.” 05/09/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. States Challenged Restarting of Federal Coal Leasing Program. California, New Mexico, New York, and Washington sued Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Department of the Interior in the federal district court for the District of Montana, seeking to stop the defendants from restarting the federal coal leasing program. The states asked the court to set aside Secretarial Order 3348, in which Secretary Zinke revoked a secretarial order issued by his predecessor Sally Jewell that ordered a programmatic environmental impact review of the coal leasing program and placed a moratorium on new coal leases pending the completion of the review. The states alleged that the defendants had failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Mineral Leasing Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The states asserted that they had been leaders in working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to impede climate change and that they had a significant interest in ensuring that the federal coal leasing program did not undermine these efforts. The states also alleged that they had experienced and would continue to experience the adverse impacts of climate change. They asserted that previously conducted environmental reviews of the coal leasing program did not consider and evaluate the program’s climate change impacts. On May 31, 2017, the states’ action was consolidated with a lawsuit brought by the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and environmental groups.