Under a legal settlement, the Bureau of Land Management has agreed not to issue any new oil and gas leases on 2.2 million acres of Colorado public land after environmental groups alleged its current management plan failed to consider climate impacts.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the Bureau of Land Management has agreed to supplement its environmental analysis and release an amended plan for 2.2 million acres of land in southwestern Colorado
“The North Fork Valley has been fighting for over a decade to prevent leasing of public lands to oil and gas development around our homes, farms and in our watersheds,” said Natasha Léger, executive director of Citizens for a Healthy Community. “We have seen some of the most extreme warming in the country, and our rare and irreplaceable ecosystem is under increasing climate and ecological stress. This moratorium on leasing has been hard fought and would not have been possible without the unwavering persistence of citizen and environmental groups holding government officials accountable.”Center for Biological Diversity, August 12, 2022
The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and others said in an August 2020 lawsuit that BLM had violated the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the government to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of its leasing decisions when it approved the current 20-year plan, reports Reuters.
The groups said the decision to allow leasing on these public lands would aggravate the climate crisis and that it would be “impossible” to address that impact without “completely transforming the way public lands are managed for fossil fuel exploitation.”
The Gunnison sage-grouse is a large bird with a chubby body, small head, and a long tail. It’s one of at least two threatened birds that have sparked past litigation in the American West over oil and gas development. Earlier cases in which conservation groups have charged that leasing puts the birds at risk have led to notable legal victories for conservation groups, including halts to mining and drilling in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.