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Western States Intervene in Eco-Activists’ Lawsuits over Energy Leases

'It is sad that every lease sale now leads to a challenge, and that NEPA has become little more than a meal ticket for litigious special interest groups...'

() Some Western states have filed motions to intervene in a pair of lawsuits from environmental groups that seek to halt federal oil and gas lease sales.

Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Oklahoma filed a memo last week seeking intervention in Dakota Resource Council v. U.S. Department of the Interior, which challenges approved oil and gas lease sales in several states and alleges the federal government violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

Many such activist lawfare efforts have been funded by leftist billionaires via groups like the Rockefeller Foundation—which, ironically, received its wealth from Standard Oil Co. tycoon John D. Rockefeller, who once monopolized the industry.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, which are made up of 10 environmental groups, say the federal government approved the sales despite admitting “that their Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Program contributes significantly to the global climate crisis, and that the Lease Sales at issue here will collectively cause billions of dollars in social and environmental harm to people and the planet.”

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In the responding memo, the states cite the federal Mineral Leasing Act, which requires the Interior Department to hold quarterly oil and gas lease sales. A state where a lease is located receives roughly half of the revenue from the lease sale and royalties.

“The relief Plaintiffs request—if granted—would produce negative consequences for the States and countermand [the Bureau of Land Management]’s statutory obligation to conduct quarterly lease sales,” the states said in the memo.

This week, Wyoming also submitted a motion to intervene in Wilderness Society v. Haaland, which similarly challenges a lease sale in the state.

The lawsuit says federal agencies’ decision to put 120,000 acres up for a lease sale in Wyoming was made “without evaluating the resulting impacts to groundwater or wildlife, and without grappling with the greenhouse gas pollution caused by oil and gas development on those leases.”

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Wyoming said in the responding memo that it “seeks intervention to protect its sovereign and economic interests that will be adversely affected.”

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement that the state “is committed to defending her interests and her industries in the courts when they are threatened.”

“It is sad that every lease sale now leads to a challenge, and that NEPA has become little more than a meal ticket for litigious special interest groups,” he added.

Federal oil and gas lease sales resumed earlier this year following months of court battles in the wake of the Biden administration’s moratorium on new federal oil and gas leases in early 2021.

A federal judge in Louisiana issued a permanent injunction against the Biden administration’s lease ban earlier this month.

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