Court orders new look at coal mining, oil and gas drilling on public lands in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming

The verdict is in: for our climate, it’s time to keep fossil fuels in the ground!

In a resounding victory, a federal judge struck down two U.S. Bureau of Land Management illegally approved plans that authorized more fossil fuel extraction on public lands in the Powder River Basin of northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana.

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit brought on our behalf by the Western Environmental Law Center, which we joined together with the Western Organization of Resource Councils, Powder River Basin Resource Council, Northern Plains Resource Council, Montana Environmental Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club.

This is a major rebuke of the Trump administration’s abject denial of climate science and the law. However, it’s also a critical wake-up call for the Biden administration that it’s time to rethink letting the fossil fuel industry run roughshod over public lands.

The Powder River Basin is the largest coal-producing region in the U.S. and has recently seen a huge surge in oil and gas fracking.

Suffice it to say, fossil fuel extraction in the region is linked to a massive amount of climate pollution. That’s why WildEarth Guardians has worked for years to put an end to coal and oil and gas production in the region and keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground, where they belong.

Turning a blind eye to climate, the Bureau of Land Management under the Trump administration authorized new plans for the region that kept vast swaths of public lands open to mining and drilling.

This ruling puts the Bureau of Land Management’s plans on ice. Most important, it directs the Biden administration to honestly disclose and address the full life-cycle impacts of fossil fuel extraction and give serious consideration to ending the sale of public lands for more coal mining.

For our climate, we have to start keeping fossil fuels in the ground. With this latest ruling, we’re making progress. And with your continued support, we’ll build upon this victory.

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About the Author

Jeremy Nichols | Former Climate and Energy Program Director, WildEarth Guardians

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