6:10 PM 03/20/2019 | Energy Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter
A federal judge temporarily blocked new oil lease auctions in Wyoming on Tuesday after finding the Department of the Interior “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when proposing the lease sales, The Washington Post reports.
Washington D.C. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled the government violated federal law and did not fully study the environmental impact of oil development on 300,000 acres of federal land. (RELATED: Federal Oil And Gas Lease Sales Break $1 Billion In 2018, Nearly Triple Previous Record)
Contreras did not void leases already sold, but he ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to redo the environmental reviews used to approve the leases. The BLM must include in the redone reviews the effects of each new oil well on overall emissions in the U.S., including the pumped oil’s downstream effects, Contreras’s ruling said.
“Given the national, cumulative nature of climate change, considering each individual drilling project in a vacuum deprives the agency and the public of the context necessary to evaluate oil and gas drilling on federal land before irretrievably committing to that drilling,” he wrote, according to WaPo.
Former President Barack Obama appointed Contreras to the federal bench in March 2012.
Contreras’s ruling came after the activist groups WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility sued the federal government over the lease sale in 2016.
“In spite of the President’s commitment to US leadership in moving towards a clean energy future … Federal Defendants continue to authorize the sale and issuance of hundreds of federal oil and gas leases on public lands across the Interior West without meaningfully acknowledging or evaluating the climate change implications of their actions,” the two groups wrote in their lawsuit, according to Ars Technica.
The BLM’s original environmental assessments included information on Wyoming’s climate and how climate change might factor into its future. The assessments granted that oil drilling in the area would increase the effects of climate change but declined to say by how much. Accurately predicting how many oil wells would eventually be dug is too difficult for any meaningful analysis, the BLM said, according to Ars.
Interesting political post script.
Judge Contreras is the same judge that recused himself from the Michael Flynn case shortly after accepting his plea.~ctm
Guest commentary by David Middleton
This is the key piece of information:
The BLM’s original environmental assessments included information on Wyoming’s climate and how climate change might factor into its future. The assessments granted that oil drilling in the area would increase the effects of climate change but declined to say by how much. Accurately predicting how many oil wells would eventually be dug is too difficult for any meaningful analysis, the BLM said…
It’s not just difficult, it’s impossible to perform any meaningful analysis on the volume of greenhouse gas emissions that may result from lease sales and awarding leases. Not all leases get drilled and not all wells are productive.
Wyoming’s Powder River Basin has recently become very active. While not yet coming close to the Williston Basin in North Dakota, oil production has been on the increase over the past few years:
How strong is Wyoming’s oil recovery, and will it last?
Heather Richards Jan 27, 2018
Wyoming oil is saving the day, something that hasn’t been said for more than two years. State revenue forecasts are improving. The oilfield service industry is climbing. And the general mood has gone from “cautiously optimistic” to just plain “optimistic.”
Proponents point to high producing wells in the Powder River Basin, a flush of new applications to drill and most of all the rising price of crude as evidence of a turnaround.
In Wyoming, a state depleted of once robust fossil fuel revenues, the recovery has spurred hope. Oil is just one of the three commodities that tanked in recent years, but its comeback has brought unexpected revenue right before a legislative budget session.
Operators started looking at Wyoming as a deal, and that competition pushed up the cost of buying leases in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
“We haven’t seen that in a long, long, long time,” Hinchey said of the $15,000 per acre leases sold in 2017. Companies were dropping millions simply to stake out a claim, he said.
“When you buy a lease like that, you want to make it productive, because you’re spending a lot of money,” he said.
Large companies like EOG Resources, Anadarko, Chesapeake and Devon have all made investments in eastern Wyoming.
Coinciding with the current uptick in price are new strides in the drilling plans that these companies have set up in earlier years.
The Bureau of Land Management released a draft environmental impact statement Friday for a joint oil and gas project between five major players north of Douglas. The 5,000-well project is planned over a 10-year period, and according to BLM’s estimates could generate 8,000 jobs.
Major players like EOG and mid-sized operators like Wold Oil are figuring out the puzzle of Wyoming’s rock. They are drilling horizontally, keeping within a band of oil saturated sediment for up to 2 miles.
“Clearly Wyoming is benefiting a lot from this,” said Godby, the economist, of the oil recovery. “How strong is this? That’s hard to say.”
Clearly the agents of the Obama maladministration can’t allow this happen… Why do I refer to Judge Contreras as an agent of the Obama maladministration?
Contreras was close friends with Peter Sztrok, the disgraced former FBI agent who engineered a perjury trap for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Contreras is believed to be the FISA Court judge who signed off on the first fraudulent FISA warrant for Carter Page. Contreras accepted Flynn’s guilty plea, even though Sztrok’s initial report said Flynn didn’t lie. Contreras was removed from the Flynn case and replaced by Emmet Sullivan, who immediately issued a Brady Order to Mueller’s inquisitors demanding they turn over any and all exculpatory evidence they had in their possession.
And now this…
U.S. Ordered to Halt Oil and Gas Drilling in Swath of Wyoming
The U.S. must stop drilling for oil and gas on more than 300,000 acres in Wyoming because the Bureau of Land Management failed to account for the cumulative effect of the activity on global climate change, a federal judge in Washington ruled.
“Given the national, cumulative nature of climate change, considering each individual drilling project in a vacuum deprives the agency and the public of the context necessary to evaluate oil and gas drilling on federal land before irretrievably committing to that drilling,” U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras said in a 60-page decision.
Contreras faulted the federal government for merely summarizing the potential impacts without elaborating on the degree to which its decisions may contribute to climate change. He stopped short of voiding the Wyoming leases at issue, ordering the bureau to re-examine nine of its environmental assessments and “no significant impact” findings, and barring the BLM from authorizing new drilling in that state until it satisfies its environmental-law obligations.
The groups suing, Wildearth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility, challenged the federal government’s approval of 473 oil and gas leases covering 463,553 acres across the three states.
The judge hasn’t yet issued his rulings on the challenged Colorado and Utah leases.
The judge is probably waiting to see how quickly his ruling gets overturned before moving on to Colorado and Utah. This is a standard tactic of
Enviromarxist terrorists environmental activists. They sue the regulatory agency to invalidate lawfully issued drilling permits or otherwise render lawfully awarded mineral leases un-drillable. This is what they did to Shell in the Chukchi Sea… just dumber. They aren’t challenging drilling permits. They are challenging the awarding of leases. In a drilling permit application, it’s at least mathematically possible to estimate future greenhouse gas emissions from individual wells. It’s absolutely impossible to do this at the time the leases are issued for the purpose of calculating the cumulative future emissions for a leasing area.
If this doesn’t get slapped down very quickly, this form of
Enviromarxist terroristic environmental activist lawfare will spread…
Overnight Energy: Judge halts drilling on Wyoming public lands over climate change | Dems demand details on Interior’s offshore drilling plans | Trump mocks wind power
BY MIRANDA GREEN – 03/20/19
JUDGE TEMPORARILY HALTS DRILLING IN WYOMING OVER CLIMATE CHANGE: A federal judge late Tuesday temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on thousands of acres of public land in Wyoming, ruling that the Trump administration failed to “sufficiently consider climate change.”
The decision by Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to adequately assess the environmental impacts of drilling on the roughly 300,000 acres by not studying how each proposed drilling project could contribute to overall U.S. carbon emissions.
“Climate change, and humanity’s ability to combat it, are increasingly prominent topics of public discourse. This case concerns the attention the government must give climate change when taking action that may increase its effects,” he wrote in his opinion. “BLM failed to take a ‘hard look’ at [greenhouse gas] emissions from the Wyoming Lease Sales.”
DEMS DEMAND OFFSHORE DRILLING INFO BEFORE CONFIRMATION HEARING: A group of Senate Democrats are calling on the Interior Department to release more details about its anticipated offshore drilling plan prior to next week’s confirmation hearing for acting Secretary David Bernhardt.
The group of 17 senators on Wednesday sent a letter to Bernhardt asking him to provide them a copy of the latest five-year plan currently being drafted by Interior, known as the 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program.
“The American public and their elected representatives in Congress deserve to understand your vision for the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) before we consider your nomination to serve as Secretary of the Interior,” the senators wrote.
The letter was signed by, among others, Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). It specifically asked Interior to provide them with prior insight into which coastal areas will be included in the draft plan.
The plan to expand offshore drilling comes as the Trump administration has beefed up its energy independence push, including strides to make available more public land for oil and gas exploration.
The administration still faces a number of hurdles when it comes to tapping into offshore oil and gas reservoirs, including figuring out where exactly they are. Doing so would likely include seismic testing, which environmentalist and animal advocates have long warned could cause harm to sea animals.
Contreras’ ruling is nothing more than an unlawful continuation of Obama maladministration regulatory malfeasance. Should the Trump administration attempt to open some of the 94% of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) currently off limits to exploration & production (E&P) activities, the same sort of lawfare will be waged against it.
This claim is simply idiotic…
The administration still faces a number of hurdles when it comes to tapping into offshore oil and gas reservoirs, including figuring out where exactly they are. Doing so would likely include seismic testing, which environmentalist and animal advocates have long warned could cause harm to sea animals
Firstly, there is no such thing as “seismic testing.” Secondly, marine seismic surveys have been conducted over just about every square meter of the outer continental shelves of the world over the past 50+ years, with no evidence that it has harmed marine life… At least not due to the use of marine airguns.
If these eco-nuts could successfully invalidate mineral leases in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, they could probably do the same in the Gulf of Mexico, which only trails behind Texas in oil production. And that would take a big bite out of American Energy Dominance…
Hat tip to SMC and CTM for bringing this to my attention.