Court Rules Against Bureau of Land Management’s Inadequate Consideration of Climate Effects
On September 15, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by providing an inadequate analysis of the likely climate impacts from four coal leases. The unanimous decision states that the agency’s review was “irrational” because it relied on the flawed notion of perfect substitution, assuming that fewer coal leases on public land would merely lead to more coal mining elsewhere.
We filed an amicus brief for this case, which focuses in part on why this notion is incorrect and why federal coal leases do appreciably affect greenhouse gas emissions. This ruling, as argued in our press release on the case, establishes an important judicial precedent. Agencies cannot make unsupported assumptions about climate effects while still complying with NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act.