Culture 3 min read

U.S Judge Blocks Oil and Gas Operations Over Climate Change Fears

Citing the cumulative nature of climate change, an Obama-appointed federal judge temporarily halted oil exploration leases on 300,000 acres of federal lands.

In a landmark decision, a U.S judge has ruled against the U.S government to halt future mining projects on U.S soil. ¦ Shutterstock

In a landmark decision, a U.S judge has ruled against the U.S government to halt future mining projects on U.S soil. ¦ Shutterstock

With the rise of climate change, even the U.S is beginning to curtail its fossil fuel operations.

There’s been a surge of lawsuits and rulings against fossil fuels on which the U.S. depends on to power its economy.

Several U.S. states, counties, and cities have filed lawsuits against major fossil fuel companies over their role in the global climate crisis.

Even kids are suing the federal government for its lack of engagement in fighting climate change.

Last month, a judge in Montana ordered a temporary halt to the construction of a previously approved 1,179-mile pipeline that would transport crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. The judge cited the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions of such projects.

Fossil Fuels: Legal Action Puts a Spanner in the Works

These are just a few examples of recent action in a long legal battle engaged by farmers, landowners, and environmentalists against the American fossil fuel industry.

In 2016, environmentalists from three groups — WildEarth Guardians, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Western Environmental Law Center — sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The plaintiffs argued that the BLM, which manages oil and gas exploration operations on U.S. public lands, failed to quantify the amount of GHG emissions from fossil fuel projects.

Now, a federal judge in Washington, DC, Rudolph Contreras has ruled against the BLM and temporarily blocked all drilling operations on 300,000 acres of public land in Wyoming.

Ordering BLM to redo its analysis, Judge Contreras ruled that:

“BLM did not sufficiently consider climate change when making those decisions… In short, BLM did not adequately quantify the climate change impacts of oil and gas leasing. They must consider the cumulative impact of GHG emissions” of any BLM leases across the United States.”

Read More: Milestone: Australia Chooses Climate Change Over Coal

Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program director calls the ruling “a triumph for our climate”.

“To limit greenhouse gas emissions, we have to start keeping our fossil fuels in the ground and putting an end to selling public lands for fracking. This decision is a critical step toward making that happen,” says Nichols “This latest court win is not only a victory for our health and future, but it reinforces that the oil and gas industry doesn’t get a free pass to pollute.”

Read More: Forget Climate Change, Call it Climate Disruption

Some, like Western Environmental Law Center, a defendant in the case, think this ruling to be a major rebuke to president Trump’s “energy first” policy.

The current administration has made millions of onshore acres available for leasing, and also plans to lease large swathes of the Atlantic to the oil and gas industry.

Read More: Study Claims Climate Change Could Soon Eradicate Clouds

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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