Description: Challenge to approval of oil and gas leases in southeastern Utah, including for failure to consider climate change impacts on cultural resources.
Friends of Cedar Mesa v. Department of the Interior
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/27/2022 Memorandum Opinion and Order Download State of Utah's motion to intervene granted. D.C. Federal Court Allowed Utah to Intervene to Defend Oil and Gas Leases. The federal district court for the District of Columbia concluded that the State of Utah could intervene in a case challenging federal approval of 32 oil and gas leases in southeastern Utah. The complaint’s allegations included that federal defendants failed to consider cumulative impacts of climate change on cultural resources. The court found that Utah met all four elements for intervention as of right because the State sought to intervene prior to deadline for serving the administrative record, the State had legally protected economic and regulatory interests that were at stake, and the federal defendants’ representation of those interests might be inadequate. 12/15/2021 Motion to Intervene Download Motion to intervene filed by State of Utah. 04/08/2021 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Challenge to Utah Oil and Gas Leases Raised Issue of Climate Change Impacts on Cultural Resources. A conservation nonprofit organization filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Columbia alleging that federal defendants’ approval of oil and gas leases in southeastern Utah failed to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act, NEPA, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The organization’s NEPA allegations included that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management “utterly ignored the cumulative impacts of climate change on cultural resource degradation,” citing public comments, including by the plaintiff, that “climate change trends will impact both exposed and buried cultural resources by increasing erosion, flooding, dust deposition, wildfire, and thermal stress—all of which are known to deteriorate cultural resources.” The complaint alleged that BLM failed to acknowledge or study these impacts in either a March 2018 environmental assessment (EA) or a 2021 supplemental EA prepared in response to a July 2019 court decision finding that BLM did not adequately consider greenhouse gas impacts in its review of oil and gas leases in Wyoming.