Description: Challenge to government decision to put coal leases in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin up for sale.
WildEarth Guardians v. Jewell
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 12/24/2013 Opinion Download Opinion issued. The D.C. Circuit reversed the holding on standing, finding that the district court “sliced the salami too thin” when it required that the specific type of pollution causing the environmental groups’ injury be the same type that was considered inadequately in the final environmental impact statement (FEIS). The D.C. Circuit concluded that the harm to the groups’ members’ recreational and aesthetic interests caused by local pollution was a sufficient injury in fact to challenge all of the alleged deficiencies in the FEIS, including those related to global climate change. On the merits, however, the D.C. Circuit called the alleged climate change-related inadequacies “of the flyspecking variety” and concluded that BLM had satisfied its obligations to consider climate change under the National Environmental Policy Act.
WildEarth Guardians v. Salazar
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/30/2012 Memorandum Opinion Download Plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment denied, defendants' cross-motions granted. Both sides moved for summary judgment. The district court granted BLM’s motion, holding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to maintain the action because they could not show that leasing of the lands in question will lead to climate change impacts resulting in specific adverse consequences to their articulated recreational, aesthetic, or economic interests in the discrete areas where they have concrete plans to work or pursue recreational activities. 05/08/2011 Memorandum Opinion Download Motion to dismiss partially granted. The court dismissed the portion of the lawsuit that alleged that the decision by the Bureau of Land Management in March 2010 to issue two coal leases was inappropriate because the agency never recertified the area as a coal production region, holding that this was a challenge to BLM’s decision to decertify the Powder River Basin in 1990, and that the six-year statute of limitations had passed. The court held that the plaintiffs could petition BLM to recertify the basin as a coal production region (the plaintiffs have done this, and BLM rejected their suit; they filed a separate action on April 18, mentioned below, challenging this). The remaining claims, which allege that BLM violated NEPA by, among other things, failing to address climate change impacts once the coal is burned, remain. 07/13/2010 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Several environmental groups filed suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) concerning its decision to offer coal leases in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. In March 2010, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management decided to sell the coal leases, which cover a region with more than 406 million tons of coal. The lawsuit alleges that the agency’s authorization of the leases violates NEPA by not analyzing the regional environmental impacts, particularly climate change impacts, of increased emissions.