Description: Challenge to 210 oil and gas leases covering 68,232.94 acres of land in New Mexico.
WildEarth Guardians v. Haaland
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 11/01/2021 Motion Download Motion for voluntary dismissal filed by WildEarth Guardians. Environmental Group Dropped Appeal of District Court Decision Upholding NEPA Review for New Mexico Oil and Gas Leases. On November 2, 2021, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals granted WildEarth Guardians’ motion for voluntary dismissal of its appeal of a district court decision rejecting claims that BLM’s sale of oil and gas leases in southeastern New Mexico did not comply with NEPA and other federal statutes. The district court upheld, among other things, BLM’s analysis of cumulative climate change impacts and also found that use of the Social Cost of Carbon was not required. In June, the Tenth Circuit granted a motion by WildEarth Guardians and the federal defendants to abate the case to facilitate mediation of a potential resolution of the dispute. 06/17/2021 Order Download Matter abated for an initial period of 180 days Tenth Circuit Abated WildEarth Guardians’ Appeal of Decision Upholding NEPA Review for New Mexico Oil and Gas Leases. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion by federal defendants-appellees and WildEarth Guardians to abate WildEarth Guardians’ appeal of a 2020 district court decision that largely rejected the organization’s claims that the National Environmental Policy Act review for oil and gas leases in southeastern New Mexico was inadequate. The arguments rejected by the district court included that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to consider cumulative climate change effects and that BLM should have applied the social cost of carbon. In their request for abatement, the federal defendants and WildEarth Guardians said abatement was necessary to facilitate further mediation of a potential resolution that would avoid the need for further litigation. American Petroleum Institute opposed abatement, arguing that it would delay final resolution of the claims and undermine national policies favoring development of oil and gas resources as well as private investments in the issued leases. The court abated the case for an initial 180-day period and said continuation of the abatement beyond that time would require agreement of all parties or an order of the court. 06/14/2021 Response Download Response filed by American Petroleum Institute to joint motion to abate the case for mediation. 06/11/2021 Motion Download Opposed joint motion to abate case for mediation filed. 10/30/2020 Order Download Appeal abated pending district court's disposition of motion for clarification.
WildEarth Guardians v. Bernhardt
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 10/19/2020 Notice of Appeal Download Notice of appeal filed by WildEarth Guardians. WildEarth Guardians Appealed Decision that Rejected Claims of Climate Change Flaws in Review of Oil and Gas Leases. WildEarth Guardians filed an appeal in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals of the District of New Mexico’s August 2020 decision rejecting the bulk of WildEarth Guardian’s challenge to three leases for oil and gas development in southeastern New Mexico. The district court upheld, among other things, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s analysis of cumulative climate change impacts and found that use of the Social Cost of Carbon was not required. 10/14/2020 Reply Download Reply filed in support of defendants' motion for clarification. 09/30/2020 Response Download Response filed by plaintiffs to federal defendants' motion for clarification. 09/16/2020 Motion Download Motion for clarification filed by federal defendants. 08/18/2020 Memorandum Opinion and Order Download Motion for vacatur granted in part and denied in part and case dismissed with prejudice. New Mexico Federal Court Found Cumulative Climate Change Analysis for Oil and Gas Leases Sufficient. The federal district court for the District of New Mexico found that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of three leases for oil and gas development across 68,232 acres in southeastern New Mexico was adequate. First, the court concluded that BLM satisfied NEPA’s requirements for analysis of the leases’ cumulative climate change effects by placing the leases in a regional and national context, considering other development in the region, and assessing (in incorporated reports) “the global impact of its leases.” The court found that the conclusion that the leases’ impact was not significant was not arbitrary and capricious. Second, the court said BLM was not required to apply the Social Cost of Carbon protocol. In addition, the court found that BLM’s consideration of air quality impacts and water quantity and quality impacts was sufficient. The court also found that BLM reasonably determined that environmental impact statements were not necessary. Regarding the NEPA regulations’ inclusion of whether an action is “highly controversial” as a factor for significance, the court recognized “that climate change can elicit strong reactions.” The court noted, however, “that nothing in NEPA or its accompanying regulations mandates certain studies to account for this global problem. What should not be controversial is the Court’s role in holding agencies accountable to congressional mandates. If Congress requires BLM to perform specific climate change-based studies, then the Court will uphold them. That time has not yet arrived. At present, BLM states that extrapolating site-specific leasing emissions onto global climate models is too uncertain. Instead, it places emissions in the context of the locality and region. Such analysis meets NEPA’s requirements and is not controversial despite the charged nature of the topic.” The court denied the plaintiff’s request to declare BLM’s leasing process guidance unlawful but enjoined subsequent leases that did not allow for public participation, per the guidance. 06/03/2019 Petition Download Petition for review of agency action filed. WildEarth Guardians Lawsuit Challenged Oil and Gas Leases in New Mexico. WildEarth Guardians filed a lawsuit challenging 210 oil and gas leases covering 68,232.94 acres of land in New Mexico in BLM’s Pecos District. The complaint asserted claims under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, NEPA, and the APA, including a failure to take a hard look at the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of climate change.