"It calls into question the legality of oil and gas leasing that's happening everywhere".
The BLM's original environmental assessments included information on Wyoming's climate and how climate change might factor into its future. The BLM must include in the redone reviews the effects of each new oil well on overall emissions in the US, including the pumped oil's downstream effects, Contreras's ruling said. Contreras said late Tuesday the U.S. Bureau of Land Management must consider nationwide emissions from past, present and future oil and gas leases.
When Fortune asked about the Trump administration's oil-drilling plans, Joe Balash, assistant secretary for land and minerals management at Interior, said in a statement: "President Trump has given clear direction that he wants to safely secure additional domestic energy from public lands on behalf of the American people... that will result in more jobs and economic growth, make America safer, benefit state and local conservation programs, and improve infrastructure". It blocks federal officials from issuing drilling permits until they conduct a new environmental review looking more closely at greenhouse gas emissions.
On Wednesday it held its fourth Gulf of Mexico-wide lease sale, yielding a moderate uptick in revenue and leases won, but a decline in average price per acre.
However, Contreras rejected the request by Wildearth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility to completely void the issued leases and stop the BLM from authorizing more leases until it fully complies with the National Environmental Protection Act.
In favor: "This is the Holy Grail ruling we've been after, especially with oil and gas", said Jeremy Nichols of advocacy group Wildlife Guardians.
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"This forces them to pull their head out of the sand and look at the bigger picture", he added.
The decision is the first significant check on the climate impact of the Trump administration's "energy-first" agenda that has opened up vast swaths of public land for mining and drilling. Interior lifted a moratorium on federal coal leasing in 2017, and is working to overhaul a 2016 guidance that requires federal agencies to assess the global climate impact of their policies. In a draft analysis a year ago of its plan to freeze fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projected that if the USA continued on its current path the globe could warm by 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century and suggested that this trend illustrated why curbing carbon emissions would make little difference to the planet.
Trump and several of his top deputies have dismissed recent federal findings that the United States and other countries must curb their carbon output in the next decade or face potentially disastrous consequences from climate change.
According to a New York Times analysis last October, "more than 12.8 million acres of federally controlled oil and gas parcels were offered for lease" in 2018.
While Contreras did not permanently vacate the leases, the plaintiffs still considered his ruling a victory.