A federal court has ruled against a U.S. Interior Department plan to open more than 15 million acres of public land and mineral rights to fossil fuel extraction, concluding that the government failed to adequately consider how the oil, gas and coal development would affect the climate and other environmental resources.
The U.S. District Court decision Friday in Montana throws a new roadblock before the Trump administration’s goal of expanding and accelerating fossil extraction from federal lands.
The case was filed in 2016 by a coalition of environmental groups over a plan by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management to lease federally owned land in the Powder River Basin of eastern Montana and Wyoming. While the BLM plan included the possibility of oil and gas development in the area, the Powder River Basin is the country’s largest coal producing region. About 40 percent of all the coal burned in the U.S. comes from the area, and it accounts for about 10 percent of the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.