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By Darrell Ehrlick, Daily Montanan

On the day that more than 119,000 acres of public land in Wyoming went out to bid for oil and gas leasing, 10 groups sued the Department of the Interior for not properly taking climate change into account in determining the lease sites throughout eight western states.

Furthermore, in the federal government’s haste to resume federal land leasing after a federal court in Louisiana found the Biden Administration’s “pause” on leases illegal, the lawsuit claims, federal officials completely ignored environmental law and side-stepped protections by only looking at the impacts of each individual lease site, rather than the cumulative impact of leasing more than 140,000 acres of public land to oil and gas.

The lawsuit challenges the public land leasing in Montana, Colorado, Nevada, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

The suit claims that the total effects of leasing the public lands, which the Bureau of Land Management administers, will result in significantly increased greenhouse gases, which will continue to exacerbate already devastating climate change. The suit said that federal officials have failed to consider the environmental impacts of the leasing, which will cost not just the United States, but the world, billions as it encounters catastrophic weather.

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