Description: Challenge to resource management plan amendments for federal lands in the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming.
Western Organization of Resource Councils v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 08/03/2022 Order Download Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment granted. Montana Federal Court Ordered Additional Environmental Review of Powder River Basin Coal Leasing Plans. The federal district court for the District of Montana ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct new National Environmental Policy Act analyses for Resource Management Plan Amendments for two field offices in the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming. The court found that BLM failed to consider adequate alternatives or appropriately consider downstream impacts of non-greenhouse gas emissions when it undertook additional environmental review to comply with an earlier order by the court. The court said BLM’s supplemental analysis “treads the same error” of failing to consider any alternative that decreases the amount of coal practically available for leasing and that BLM failed to take the hard look at “all downstream effects of fossil fuel combustion” (not just downstream greenhouse gas emissions) that the earlier decision required. The court also denied a motion by BLM for remand without vacatur in which BLM suggested that, informed by comments received on the coal leasing program, it might conduct a revised screening based on climate change criteria. 02/24/2021 Order Download Motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative, to sever and transfer, and to stay. Citing “Unique Background” of Case, Montana Federal Court Rejected Transfer of Claims Regarding Public Lands in Wyoming. The federal district court for the District of Montana denied the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) request that the court dismiss or transfer claims challenging a resource management plan amendment for federal lands in Wyoming. The suit also involved a challenge to a resource management plan amendment for lands in Montana. All of the lands at issue in the case are located in the Powder River Basin. In 2018, the Montana federal court invalidated the previous resource management plans for the same areas, finding that the environmental reviews were inadequate. This suit involves the plaintiffs’ claims that the resource management plan amendments developed in response to the court’s previous orders failed to comply with those orders or with federal law. The court—which also rejected BLM’s motion to dismiss and sever or transfer the Wyoming-related claims in the earlier case—again found that venue was proper in the District of Montana because the case did not involve real property, the plaintiffs reside in the district, and a substantial part of the events giving rise to this case (including the court’s prior decisions) occurred in the district. The court also declined to exercise its discretion to sever and transfer the Wyoming RMP claims, finding that the plaintiffs’ “elevated interest in prevention of inconsistent judgments and judicial economy rooted in the unique background of this case outweigh the interest in having localized controversies decided at home.” 08/27/2020 Complaint Download Complaint filed.