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Montana Environmental Information Center v. United States Bureau of Land Management

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20131
Nos. CV-11-15-GF-SEH, (D. Mont., 06/14/2013) (Haddon, J.)

A district court dismissed environmental groups' claims that BLM failed to adequately consider climate change, global warming, and greenhouse gases (GHGs) in violation of NEPA before it approved oil and gas leases on federal land in Montana in 2008 and 2010. The groups argued that BLM's failure to follow NEPA procedures will result in methane gas being emitted from the oil and gas leases at issue, and that the release of methane gas will cause global warming and climate change, which, in turn, will present a threat of harm to their aesthetic and recreational interests in lands near the lease sites by melting glaciers, warming streams, and promoting beetle-killed forests. The groups, however, lack standing. The groups failed to demonstrate that BLM's alleged failure to follow proper procedure created an increased risk of actual, threatened, or imminent harm to their recreational and aesthetic interests in lands near the lease sites. Although the groups' recreational and aesthetic interests are local, the effects of GHG emissions are diffuse and unpredictable, and the groups presented no scientific evidence or recorded scientific observations to support their assertions that BLM's leasing decisions will present a threat of climate change impacts on lands near the lease sites. Nor have the groups shown that methane emissions from the lease sites will make a meaningfully contribution to global GHG emissions or to global warming. The groups, therefore, failed to establish injury-in-fact and causation.