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By Zack Budryk, The Hill

Pumpjacks operate at the Kern River Oil Field

A coalition of environmental groups on Wednesday sued the Biden administration over its approval of oil and gas lease sales in four Western states.

The lease sales in Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Utah mark the first since the administration temporarily froze new lease sales on federal lands in January 2021. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued the sales constitute a violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, under which the Interior Department has a responsibility to prevent “unnecessary or undue degradation” of public lands.

The plaintiffs projected that the sales, as well as another series of sales scheduled in Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming, will cost billions in harms to air, water, local wildlife and public health.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Dakota Resource Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens for a Healthy Community, Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper, the Montana Environmental Information Center, the Rio Grande Riverkeeper, the Sierra Club, the Waterkeeper Alliance, the Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians.

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