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Opponents of Proposed Resolution Copper Mine, Land Exchange Hold News Conference Before Public Hearing

Media Advisory
October 7, 2019

Contact: Brytnee Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (631) 870-9925, bmiller@biologicaldiversity.org
Wendsler Nosie, San Carlos Apache Tribe, (928) 200-7762, apaches4ss@yahoo.com

QUEEN VALLEY, AZ  — The Apache Stronghold and allies will deliver public comments Tuesday opposing the Resolution Copper mine, which would destroy a sacred site for the Apache people. The group will hold a news conference before Tuesday’s public hearing, hosted by the U.S. Forest Service to gather public comments on an environmental analysis of the project.

The 1,300-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement, released in August 2019, details the potential damage from building one of the largest copper mines in North America. The public comment period ends November 7.

What: News conference with former San Carlos Apache Tribal Chairman Wendsler Nosie Sr., Apache Stronghold and allies.

When: Tuesday, October 8; news conference at 4:30 p.m.; public hearing at 5 p.m.

Where: Queen Valley Recreation Hall, 1478 East Queen Valley Drive, Queen Valley, Ariz.


Oak Flat, about an hour east of Phoenix, is a sacred site known to Apaches as Chi’Chil’Ba’Goteel. Home to a diverse desert ecosystem, it’s also on federal land within the Tonto National Forest.

For centuries Oak Flat has played a ceremonial role in the Apache culture as a place to harvest medicinal plants for coming-of-age ceremonies. It is also an important part of America’s public land heritage. The Resolution Copper mine would decimate Oak Flat and the surrounding Sonoran Desert.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Legal Challenge to Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Expanded

For Immediate Release
September 10, 2019

Contact: Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054,
Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (914) 261-4626, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org
Jake Thompson, Natural Resources Defense Council, (202) 289-2387,
Patrick Davis, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance, (323) 972-5192, mark@boldalliance.org

GREAT FALLS, MT  — Conservation groups today expanded their federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s illegal approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The groups are suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its streamlined approval of the pipeline, and today added claims challenging the Corps’ failure to ensure that endangered species would not be harmed by the project.

In late 2018 the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ruled that the Trump administration violated bedrock environmental laws by issuing a permit for Keystone XL without adequately evaluating critical information on the project’s environmental impacts, including tar sands oil spills and climate change.

Although Trump effectively circumvented that ruling by issuing a new permit in March, the fact remains that no federal agency has yet completed the requisite analysis.

Today’s filing expands on the federal lawsuit filed by the same groups in July, which challenged the Army Corps’ approval of the pipeline to be constructed through hundreds of rivers, streams and wetlands without evaluating the project’s impacts. That evaluation is required by the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act.

“Regulators can’t ignore that Keystone XL will devastate waterways and protected species through oil spills and habitat destruction,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re still fighting Trump’s attempt to ram through this dirty fossil fuel project. This destructive pipeline should never get the chance to ruin clean water that’s crucial to people and endangered species.”

“Though he seems to think otherwise, Donald Trump is not above the law, and we won’t allow him to endanger wildlife, clean water, and the climate to allow a Canadian company to move more tar sands through the United States,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “We’ve held off construction of Keystone XL for more than a decade, and we won’t stop until this dirty tar sands proposal is put to rest for good.”

“While Trump states over and over again the Keystone XL pipeline is already being built, those of us who live in the states know the reality and risks. Our scenic Niobrara River and the Platte River, where Sandhill and Whooping Cranes migrate, along with farmers’ water wells, are all at risk with this foreign, export pipeline. Trump may not believe in the rule of law, but we the people do, and we will take to the streets, courts and cornfields to ensure this pipeline is never built,” said Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance founder.

“Trump’s continued attempts to build the dirty, water-polluting Keystone XL pipeline with a rubber stamp instead of full environmental review is deeply disturbing,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “On such a major project, the communities who are on the frontlines deserve a comprehensive environmental review to protect themselves, our environment, and endangered species. Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would be devastating for the farmers, tribes and communities along its route. Stopping this pipeline will help put a stop to Trump’s ongoing corruption.”

“As our new claims show, the Trump administration has put the cart before the horse by approving this dirty pipeline before following federal law and ensuring it will not harm endangered species along the proposed route,” said Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “In fact, Keystone XL’s effects on species — just like its effects on water bodies, nearby communities, and the climate — would be devastating.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Conservation Groups Blast Draft Forest Service Rule to Gut Bedrock Environmental Law

For Immediate Release
August 26, 2019

Contact: Susan Jane Brown, Western Environmental Law Center, brown@westernlaw.org, 503-914-1323
Randi Spivak, Center for Biological Diversity, rspivak@biologicaldiversity.org, 310-779-4894
Sam Evans, Southern Environmental Law Center, sevans@selcnc.org, 828-258-2023

WASHINGTON, DC  — Conservation and public interest groups today submitted formal opposition to a proposed Trump administration rule that would fundamentally change long-held environmental practices and allow for the sweeping destruction of national forests across the country.

In comments to the U.S. Forest Service, 177 groups said the proposed changes to the agency’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing procedures would gut this important decision-making tool by waiving requirements that the agency disclose environmental harm and involve the public. Among other things, the proposed rule would allow the agency to approve large-scale commercial logging and roadbuilding on up to 7,300 acres (11 square miles) of national forest land at a time without public input or comment.

The Forest Service’s sweeping draft rule broadens so-called “categorical exclusions” to exempt an alarming range of projects from public review, including logging, roadbuilding, oil and gas drilling, mining and power lines. Currently, categorical exclusions are reserved for routine projects that don’t harm the environment, such as hiking trail restoration or maintenance on a park building.

The Forest Service’s draft rule also proposes a sharp reduction in public input – under the agency’s proposed rule, the public would lose the right to comment on more than 93% of decisions affecting national forests and grasslands. Although the Forest Service has stated that the changes are needed to speed up project delivery, the groups’ comments point out that projects with public input and transparent scientific analysis are actually more efficient on a per-acre basis than projects developed behind closed doors.

Before finalizing its proposal, the Forest Service must consider the objections raised in these and the tens of thousands of other comments submitted in opposition. If the Forest Service does not abandon the proposal or fundamentally change course, the proposal’s fate will ultimately be decided by the courts.

The groups submitting comments today issued the following statements:

“The Forest Service’s proposed rule is deeply flawed, not only because it violates federal environmental laws, but also because it seeks to take the public out of public lands management,” said Susan Jane Brown, Attorney and Public Lands Director at Western Environmental Law Center. “Rather than building agreement around transparent science-based land management and restoration, the rule would shroud agency decision-making in arbitrary agency discretion. Instead of increasing efficiency, the proposed rule is guaranteed to result in controversy and litigation. The Forest Service should abandon this rulemaking effort.”

“The Trump Administration is rushing to hand favors to big oil, gas, logging, and mining interests once again with the Forest Service’s latest proposal to attack bedrock environmental law,” said Olivia Glasscock, Attorney at Earthjustice. “This proposal would shut the public out of over 90% of decisions affecting national forests and grasslands. The Forest Service should abandon it and instead concentrate on protecting our best tools in the fight against climate change – our forests.”

“This rule would streamline the destruction of America’s national forests,” said Alison Flint, Director of Litigation and Agency Policy at The Wilderness Society. “Under the guise of ‘modernizing’ forest policy, the rule would shut out the public while speeding up logging, road building and other assaults on wild lands that the public owns. In our comments to the Forest Service, we cite decades of data and science showing that roads are a leading cause of pollution to the forest rivers and streams that provide drinking water for millions of Americans as well as critical habitat for native fish and other wildlife.”

“This proposal would shut out the public – including nearby communities – from helping decide what makes sense for our publicly-owned forests,” said Matthew Davis, Legislative Director of the League of Conservation Voters. “This is yet another Trump administration attack on our public lands and our democratic process for the benefit of corporate polluters. The Trump administration’s Forest Service should abandon this irresponsible proposal and make sure the public’s voice is heard in decision-making.”

“Public involvement is fundamental to democracy, but this proposed rule seeks to silence local communities and move decision-making about our forests behind closed doors,” said Joro Walker, General Counsel for Western Resource Advocates. “We urge the Forest Service to abandon this misguided rulemaking process, which will deprive on-the-ground agency staff of a critical planning tool and put the West’s unique natural places, critical wildlife habitats, and scarce water resources at risk. It will also do nothing to alleviate the real cause of backlog at the agency, which is a lack of funding, rather than the public input and environmental review process.”

“Yet again the Trump administration wants to roll back vital safeguards and curtail public input. This rule will make it easier to log, drill and mine our forests– actions that will be doubly bad for our climate by both increasing pollution and limiting our ability to reduce it. Our forests must be managed as part of the climate solution,” said Kirin Kennedy, Sierra Club Deputy Legislative Director for Lands and Wildlife.

“This rule would keep the public completely in the dark while the Trump administration bulldozes our national forests,” said Randi Spivak, Public Lands Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Forest Service is saying ‘trust us’ with public lands, but they’ve given us every reason not to trust them. This agency has a duty to protect public lands and we intend to make sure that they do, even if it means taking them to court.”

“Audubon and the public depend on NEPA to ensure that decisions affecting birds like marbled murrelets in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska and greater sage-grouse in the Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho are based on sound science and made with public input,” said Nada Culver, Vice President for Public Lands, National Audubon Society. “But the Forest Service is letting all these fundamental concepts fly out the window in order to more hastily approve logging, energy development and road building. The Forest Service should abandon this ill-advised process.”

“Public input has saved countless acres of old growth forests, rare habitats, streams, trails, and scenic vistas by persuading the Forest Service to relocate or scale back logging projects, roads, and other infrastructure,” said Sam Evans, National Forests and Parks Program Leader for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Now, under tremendous pressure to meet climbing timber quotas, the agency wants to forgo those improvements and instead hide the impacts of its projects from public view. We won’t stand for it.”

“The proposed rule brings no comfort to the hundreds of imperiled wildlife species that depend on America’s national forests for their survival.  As the world wrestles with a biodiversity crisis, it is irresponsible and reprehensible for this administration to willfully ignore the negative impacts of logging and roadbuilding on America’s treasured wildlife and lands,” said Peter Nelson, Director of Federal Lands, Defenders of Wildlife.

“From Grand Canyon to Shenandoah National Parks, more than a dozen of our country’s most iconic parks border national forest lands. And what happens in forests adjacent to national parks can dramatically impact the environment inside the park itself. The U.S. Forest Service’s proposed rule not only threatens the lands, water and wildlife found in our national forests, but will also inevitably impact the irreplaceable natural and cultural resources within park borders,” said Ani Kame’enui, Deputy Vice President of Government Affairs for National Parks Conservation Association. “NPCA has long been a supporter of the National Environmental Policy Act and its facilitation of community engagement and commitment to landscape connectivity. The proposed rule cuts at the very heart of this bedrock law, undermining both national park landscapes and the millions of people who visit these treasured places each year.”

A copy of the organizations’ technical comments is available HERE.

In addition, the following organizations, state governments, and decision-makers also submitted comments in opposition to the Forest Service’s proposed rule:

Jim Furnish, a retired Deputy Chief of the U.S. Forest Service
The Conservation Alliance, a group of 250 outdoor and related businesses
25 U.S. Senators opposing the Forest Service’s draft rule
27 U.S. Representatives opposing the Forest Service’s draft rule
54 law professors from across the country with thousands of years of experience in federal administrative, environmental, and natural resources law
Horst Greczmiel, former Associate Director for NEPA Oversight at CEQ, expressing deep concern with the Forest Service’s draft rule
Local elected officials from Eagle County, CO; Pitkin County, CO; Gunnison County (CO); the City of Aspen, CO; Boulder County, CO; county officials in Pima County, AZ; San Juan County Commission (UT); Grand County Commission (UT); and, King County, WA

Center for Biological Diversity * Defenders of Wildlife * Earthjustice * League of Conservation Voters * National Audubon Society * National Parks Conservation Association * Sierra Club * Southern Environmental Law Center * The Wilderness Society * Western Environmental Law Center * Western Resource Advocates

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Senate Advances Bill That Would Gut Environmental Review of Oil Pipelines, Other Large Infrastructure Projects

For Immediate Release
July 24, 2019

Contact: Paulo Lopes, (202) 849-8398, plopes@biologicaldiversity.org

WASHINGTON, DC (July 24, 2019)  — A Senate committee today approved a bill that would side-step environmental review to fast-track large infrastructure projects, including oil pipelines and natural gas export terminals.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved S. 1976, the Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act, by a voice vote. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would exempt infrastructure projects from detailed environmental reviews and public input that are required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

“It’s shameful that senators are allowing more agencies to ignore the public’s voice and rubber-stamp oil pipelines and other dangerous projects,” said Paulo Lopes, a public lands policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The National Environmental Policy Act protects the health and safety of communities. But senators are falling for the bogus industry myth that it’s too burdensome. The best projects occur when the public and environment are fully protected.”

In 2015 Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which weakened environmental review and public input for highway projects. The law also established a permitting council that authorized even more limited environmental review on other projectsexceeding $200 million, including oil pipelines and nuclear plants. These provisions are set to end in 2022.

Portman’s bill would make these provisions permanent and expand them to include transportation and Army Corp of Engineers projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, which were previously excluded.

Supporters of the end run around the environmental review process said it was intended to speed highway construction, but highway construction times have increased. A 2016 Department of Treasury report found that a lack of funding was the most common indicator delaying the completion of transportation projects.

“Further undermining environmental safeguards won’t move projects forward any faster,” Lopes said. “This is a flimsy excuse to avoid public input and shirk one of nation’s bedrock environmental laws. The government admits that it’s a lack of money that slows things down.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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White House Launches Attack on Climate Guidance for Federal Agencies

For Immediate Release
July 24, 2019

Contact: Jonathon Berman, jonathon.berman@sierraclub.org

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Trump administration’s White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) released new draft guidance for federal agencies, gutting requirements for environmental reviews of fossil fuel projects.

Under the new guidance, agencies will not be obligated to give greater consideration to greenhouse gas emissions than to other threats to the environment when evaluating proposed projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The draft guidance attempts an end run around the existing obligation that federal agencies consider the cumulative environmental impacts — including climate impacts — of federal actions, instead directing agencies to compare a project’s greenhouse gas emissions to state or national levels in lieu of meaningful disclosure of the cumulative climate impact of an agency’s decisions. Furthermore, the new guidance questions whether the use of the social cost of carbon is even appropriate to use.
Signed into law in 1970, NEPA requires the government to give an opportunity for public input and take environmental, economic, and health impacts into consideration before approving any major project. Attempted actions by the Trump administration to rush through approval of a number of controversial fossil fuel proposals — including Keystone XL and a massive expansion of drilling on public lands — have been rejected by the courts because the administration failed to conduct adequate environmental reviews required under NEPA.
In response, Sierra Club Deputy Legislative Director Matthew Gravatt released the following statement:
“Once again, the Trump administration is more than willing to change the rules to benefit their corporate polluter friends. Today’s actions do nothing but turn a blind eye to the climate crisis while further stripping oversight and safeguards in an effort to aid the fossil fuel industry tear through our communities, public lands, and waterways with dirty and dangerous projects. NEPA is a critical safeguard for our clean air and water, our climate, and our families’ health. We will pursue every available avenue to fight back against this shameless handout to polluters.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

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Appeals Court Throws Out Case Blocking Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline, Relying on New Permit Issued by President Trump

For Immediate Release
June 6, 2019


Jake Thompson, NRDC, (202) 289-2387, jthompson@nrdc.org
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance, (323) 972-5192, mark@boldalliance.org
Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (914) 261-4626, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org
Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054, jmargolis@biologicaldiversity.org
Patrick Davis, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org
Dustin Ogdin, Northern Plains Resource Council, (406) 228-1154, dustin@northernplains.org

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (June 6, 2019)  — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a legal challenge to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, ruling the case was no longer active due to President Trump’s revocation of the permit at the center of the case. In March, Trump issued a new “presidential” permit for Keystone XL, in an effort to spur construction of the pipeline.

Previously, a federal district court in Montana determined the environmental review for the pipeline was incomplete and blocked construction until the government complies with the law. It was widely reported that President Trump took the extraordinary step of issuing a new permit to undermine the Montana court’s decision. Despite these moves, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), the pipeline’s developer, recently informed investors that it was too late to begin construction of the pipeline in 2019.

The following are reactions to the decision:

“The Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen and we will not stop fighting it, or President Trump’s extraordinary misuse of executive power to disregard the courts and environmental laws. We will explore all available legal avenues to stop this dirty tar sands oil pipeline from ever being built and endangering our communities and climate,” said Jackie Prange, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Landowners and Tribal Nations in Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana will continue to fight in the courts, despite this decision that ignores our voices and our nation’s environmental laws in favor of the Trump Administration’s attempt to fast-track a risky tar sands export pipeline that threatens our land, water and climate. We know this ten-year battle is still far from over, and we’ll continue to stand together against Keystone XL at every opportunity,” said Mark Hefflinger, communications director for Bold Alliance.

“Despite today’s ruling, we remain confident that Keystone XL will never be built,” said Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes. “This proposed project has been stalled for a decade because it would be all risk and no reward, and despite the Trump administration’s efforts, they cannot force this dirty tar sands pipeline on the American people.”

“The court is condoning blatant disregard for environmental laws and allowing regulators to put oil company profits over clean waterways and the people and species that rely on them,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration thinks it’s getting away with approving this dangerous project without adequate environmental review, but we’ll keep fighting Keystone XL to protect the people and wildlife in its path and prevent further harm to our climate.”

“Trump’s actions were a clear overreach to help corporate polluters,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “Today’s decision attempts to foist an unnecessary and dirty project on communities while imperiling our environment. The Keystone XL pipeline is a direct attack on Americans’ right to safe, unpolluted resources.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline would threaten the livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers and endanger drinking water for tens of thousands of Montanans,” said Dena Hoff, a Northern Plains member and Montana farmer. “Despite the Trump administration’s best efforts to upend the rule of law to serve a foreign corporation, we will continue the fight for clean water and the safety of Montanans every step of the way.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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350.org on Trump’s executive order to expedite pipeline permits

For Immediate Release
April 10, 2019

CROSBY, TX (April 10, 2019)  — Today, as Donald Trump touted backing the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and ramming through dangerous pipelines like Keystone XL and Dakota Access, he signed two executive orders expediting the permitting process for risky and toxic oil and gas pipelines, and limiting states’ decision-making power on such projects. This comes a week after a KMCO chemical plant explosion killed one person and injured two more.

350.org Executive Director May Boeve issued the following statement in response:

“This is a massive abuse of power that does nothing other than line the pockets of Trump’s fossil fuel billionaire friends, all at the expense of our democracy and our safety. Trump can try to rewrite regulations in favor of Big Oil by spreading disinformation and lies, but he can’t stop people power and our movement. We will continue to fiercely oppose dirty projects like Keystone XL through the US heartlands, the Williams pipeline in New York, and many more across the country. Right now, a coalition of Indigenous leaders, farmers, ranchers, and climate activists, who have been fighting pipelines for years, are training people in 10 cities across the U.S. to strengthen our resistance. Any public official claiming to a be real climate leader must rebuke Trump’s latest order, and stand with communities pushing for a Green New Deal to ensure a just transition from fossil fuels to a 100% renewable energy economy.”

A coalition of Indigenous leaders, farmers, ranchers, and national organizations launched the ‘Promise to Protect’ training tour, bringing knowledge from the frontlines of the fight against Keystone XL to local fossil fuel resistance happening across the country. The tour, named for the commitment made by more than 25,000 people to mobilize against the Keystone XL pipeline, will stop in 10 cities across the U.S. and several reservations along the pipeline route.

A rigorous report released last month revealed Williams Company and utilities manufactured a false demand in attempts to fasttrack pipelines. On Thursday, April 18, New Yorkers will march over the Brooklyn Bridge demanding Governor Andrew Cuomo walk the talk on a Green New Deal, starting by rejecting the Williams fracked gas pipeline before Earth Day.


Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage, US Communications Manager, thanu@350.org

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Landmark climate victory: Federal court rejects sale of public lands for fracking

For Immediate Release
March 20, 2019

WASHINGTON― In a landmark victory for climate, health, and public lands, a federal judge late yesterday rejected the sale of public lands for fracking and ordered a halt to drilling on more than 300,000 acres in Wyoming.

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

“Fracked gas is dangerous for people and terrible for the climate,” said Barbara Gottlieb, Environment and Health Program director for Physicians for Social Responsibility. “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.”

While the ruling applies to Wyoming, it has implications for public lands across the American West and is a major rebuke to the Trump administration’s anti-environment, anti-climate agenda.

In 2016, WildEarth Guardians, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Western Environmental Law Center sued the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Department’s Bureau of Land Management for failing to account for the climate consequences of selling public lands for fracking in the American West.

The suit targeted more than 460,000 acres of public lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming that were leased to the oil and gas industry in 2015 and 2016. An interactive map of these lands is available here >>

When leasing, the Bureau of Land Management refused to calculate and limit the greenhouse gas emissions from future oil and gas development.

During the case, the judge decided to address 303,000 acres of leases in Wyoming first. In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras held the Bureau “did not adequately quantify the climate change impacts of oil and gas leasing,” violating federal environmental laws.

“It’s high time the federal government was held accountable for the costs of sacrificing our public lands for dirty oil and gas,” said Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, managing attorney for WildEarth Guardians. “This win demonstrates the Trump administration can’t legally turn its back on climate change.”

Last fall, scientists with the Department of the Interior released an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the production and consumption of fossil fuels from public lands. The report found these emissions, which come from federal coal, as well as offshore and onshore oil and gas, accounted for 25 percent of all U.S. climate pollution.

At the same time, federal climate scientists released Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which sounded new alarms over the costs of climate change to the U.S. The report called for “immediate and substantial global greenhouse gas emissions reductions” to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

“With the science mounting that we need to aggressively rein in greenhouse gases, this ruling is monumental,” said Kyle Tisdel, attorney and Energy and Communities Program director for the Western Environmental Law Center. “Every acre of our public land sold to the oil and gas industry is another blow to the climate, making this ruling a powerful reality check on the Trump administration and a potent tool for reining in climate pollution.”

More than 25 million acres of public lands in the U.S. have been leased to the oil and gas industry for development. More than 20 million of these acres are located in the western states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.

Under Trump, the pace of leasing public lands for oil and gas development has surged. In 2018, nearly 4 million acres were put up for sale to the oil and gas industry. So far in 2019, the administration auctioned off or proposed leasing more than 2.1 million acres.

Judge Contreras’ ruling today signals that unless the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management begin fully accounting for the climate costs of all oil and gas leasing in the U.S., the agencies will be running afoul of federal law.

The Judge stated, “[The] agency must consider the cumulative impact of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions generated by past, present, or reasonably foreseeable BLM lease sales in the region and nation.”


Kyle Tisdel, Western Environmental Law Center, (575) 770-7501, tisdel@westernlaw.org

Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, (303) 437-7663, jnichols@wildearthguardians.org

Barbara Gottlieb, Physicians for Social Responsibility, (202) 587-5225, bgottlieb@psr.org

Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, WildEarth Guardians, (505) 401-4180, sruscavagebarz@wildearthguardians.org

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During Shutdown, Trump Urged to Halt Fracking Permits, 2 Million-acre Lease Sale

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2019

Contacts: Rebecca Fischer, WildEarth Guardians, (406) 698-1489, rfischer@wildearthguardians.org
Kelly Fuller, Western Watersheds Project, (928) 322-8449, kfuller@westernwatersheds.org
Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, (801) 300-2414, tmckinnon@biologicaldiversity.org

WASHINGTON― Conservation groups today called on the Trump administration to halt oil and gas drilling permits and cancel lease sales being developed during the government shutdown, saying they violate federal law. Auctions scheduled in February and March span six states and 2.3 million acres of public lands ― the largest quarterly lease sales in at least a decade.

“It’s absolutely outrageous, not to mention illegal, that Trump is rolling out the red carpet for the oil and gas industry while the American people can’t even reach an agency staffer by phone,” said Rebecca Fischer, climate and energy program attorney with WildEarth Guardians. “We’ve been completely shut out of decisions affecting our public lands, and we won’t stand for it.”

Issuing drilling permits during the shutdown violates the National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the groups said in a letter to acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The public can’t view or provide feedback on new permits or environmental reviews since the Bureau of Land Management’s offices are closed and agency scientists furloughed.

The furloughs have also halted any work on whether environmental analysis should be required before issuing drilling permits or leasing public land for fracking. The BLM has posted public notice of at least 127 new drilling-permit applications in several states during the shutdown.

“The Trump administration is trying to use the government shutdown to do an end run around the laws that protect our air, water, and wildlife,” said Kelly Fuller, energy and mining campaign director at Western Watersheds Project. “But the Department of the Interior can’t hide forever. Sooner or later they are going to have to start talking to the public, and the longer they wait to do it, the more lawbreaking they’ll have to explain.”

Issuing drilling permits during the shutdown also violates the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits work without pay in the absence of congressional appropriations except to protect life or property. The BLM cannot require its employees to work without pay to approve drilling permits for the oil and gas industry, the groups said.

“The only thing trashier than our national parks during this shutdown has been the Trump administration’s coddling of the oil industry,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Furloughed federal workers can’t pay their mortgages, but Trump is hellbent on ensuring profits for fossil-fuel corporations. Not one new lease or drilling permit should be allowed under these conditions.”

The groups are calling on the BLM to halt February and March oil and gas lease sales in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana. Furloughed biological- and cultural-resource specialists cannot evaluate public comments on those sales, conduct environmental reviews or consult with tribes as required by law.

Citing similar reasons, a second coalition of conservation groups today also called on Bernhardt to cancel those sales.

According to an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity, if all the parcels offered in the February and March sales were developed, it would create up to 407 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution. That’s the equivalent of the annual climate pollution from 104 coal-fired power plants.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit environmental conservation organization that works to protect and restore watersheds and wildlife throughout the West.
WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Guardians envisions a future in which communities are empowered to choose the kind of power, jobs, and local solutions that benefit current and future generations—solutions that will also enable us to confront the climate crisis.

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Federal Judge to Hear Border Wall Challenge in D.C.

Media Advisory, December 17, 2018

Contacts: Paulo Lopes, (202) 849-8398, plopes@biologicaldiversity.org
Mary K. Reinhart, (602) 320-7309, mkreinhart@biologicaldiversity.org

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups will present arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s border-wall construction in New Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is presiding over the case. The judge will hear arguments from both sides during the proceeding and could issue her ruling at any time following the hearing. The lawsuit challenges the administration’s use of a long-expired waiver to sweep aside 25 laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands and endangered wildlife.

“Trump can’t ignore dozens of bedrock environmental laws, no matter how desperate he is to build his destructive border wall,” said Jean Su, a Center attorney. “It’s time to stop Trump’s reckless executive overreach before he inflicts more damage on people and wildlife in the borderlands. We look forward to arguing the merits of this case.”
What: Federal court hearing challenging Trump’s border wall.
Where: U.S. District Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave. N.W., Courtroom 17 – 6th Floor.
When: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 10:30 a.m.
Media Availability: Attorneys and conservation advocates will be available for interviews outside the courthouse, before and after the hearing.

The Department of Homeland Security exempted itself from dozens of laws to rush border-wall construction in New Mexico. But the waiver authority, granted by Congress more than 10 years ago, no longer applies.

The border-wall project includes 20 miles of new 18 foot-high steel bollard walls, which obstruct the natural migrations of wildlife. Dozens of rare wildlife species, including the aplomado falcon and Mexican gray wolf, make their homes in this region of New Mexico, as do kit foxes, bighorn sheep and ringtail cats. The area is also within historic jaguar habitat.

A 2017 study by the Center identified more than 90 endangered or threatened species that would be threatened by proposed wall construction along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

Beyond jeopardizing wildlife, endangered species and public lands, the U.S.-Mexico border wall is part of a larger strategy of ongoing border militarization that damages human rights, civil liberties, native lands, local businesses and international relations. The border wall impedes the natural migrations of people and wildlife that are essential to healthy diversity.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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