3,500 New Oil and Gas Wells Threaten to Undermine Climate, Clean Air of American West

This week, Guardians called on an Interior Department appeals board to overturn the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s approval of a massive public lands fracking project in western Wyoming.

In a brief filed with the Interior Board of Land Appeals, we laid out how the agency’s approval of the Normally Pressured Lance project, which involves the drilling and fracking of 3,500 wells across 220 square miles at the foot of the iconic Wind River Range, violates federal environmental laws.

Last fall, we tried to fully block approval of the fracking project, calling on the appeals board to “stay” any and all fracking in the region.

Unfortunately, our request was denied. However, our legal challenge remains in full force and effect and we still have a chance to overturn this fossil fuel disaster. Rather than give up, we’ve opted to step up our legal challenge and our resolve to keep the Normally Pressured Lance project from moving forward.

Guardians respectfully requests that the IBLA set aside and remand BLM’s conformity analysis and NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] analysis and decision approving the NPL [Normally Pressured Lance] Project.

– Becca Fischer, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Attorney

Our brief challenges the failure of the Bureau of Land Management to comply with the Clean Air Act, as well as the agency’s failure to disclose the full climate consequences of this massive fracking.

Unbelievably, this part of Wyoming has suffered from big city smog pollution because of unchecked oil and gas development.

Despite violations of federal health limits, the Bureau of Land Management is letting the oil and gas industry off the hook when it comes to safeguarding clean air.

To boot, the agency turned its back on the climate consequences of more public lands fracking, actually asserted that such impacts were “not possible” to determine.

Unbelievably, the Bureau of Land Management disclosed that over the 40-year life of the project, more than 1.8 billion metric tons of carbon pollution would be released.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that would be equal to building more than 11 coal-fired power plants and operating them for 40 years.

Given the resounding consensus that we need to drastically curb greenhouse gas emissions to protect the climate, it’s unconscionable that the Bureau of Land Management would say it’s not possible to conclude that 1.8 billion metric tons of carbon would be a climate disaster.

Public lands at the foot of the Wind River Range in western Wyoming are threatened by the Normally Pressured Lance Project.

We’re stepping up our defense of the climate and working hard to keep our fossil fuels in the ground here in the American West.

With the Normally Pressured Lance project threatening to unleash climate pollution at levels that dwarf coal-fired power plants, we simply can’t afford to stay on the sidelines.

Jeremy Nichols

About the Author

Jeremy Nichols | Climate and Energy Program Director, WildEarth Guardians

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