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Wildearth Guardians v. Jewell

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20001
Nos. 12-5300, (D.C. Cir., 12/24/2013)

The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of environmental groups' lawsuit challenging BLM's decision to lease two tracts of land in the Wyoming Powder River Basin for coal mining. The groups argued that BLM failed to adequately consider several environmental concerns, including the increase in local pollution and global climate change caused by future mining, before authorizing the leasing of the tracts. But while the groups had standing, their claims failed on the merits. BLM satisfied its obligations under NEPA to consider climate change. Current science does not allow for the specificity demanded by the groups, and BLM was not required to identify specific effects on the climate in order to prepare an adequate EIS. Moreover, BLM discussed five separate alternatives to address greenhouse gases and climate change and analyzed the environmental impact of each. BLM also took a hard look at the effect the lease developments would have on local ozone levels. Despite the groups' arguments to the contrary, BLM's use of projected nitrogen oxide levels as a proxy for ozone was not arbitrary and capricious.