By Jonathan Ambarian, Missoula Current
HELENA (KPAX) – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says it will reconsider more than 100 oil and gas leases in eastern Montana and western North Dakota, as part of a settlement agreement with environmental groups.
Earthjustice and the Western Environmental Law Center filed suit in federal court last year, on behalf of WildEarth Guardians, Montana Environmental Information Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance.
The groups challenged five lease sales conducted in 2019 and 2020, arguing the BLM’s environmental analysis didn’t adequately consider the potential impacts.
This week, the two sides filed their settlement agreement with the U.S. District Court for Montana. In it, the BLM said it would do additional analysis, then make its new decision on the leases.
In addition, the agency agreed not to approve any more drilling applications on the affected lands until that new decision is made.