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WildEarth Guardians and Sierra Club v United States Bureau of Land Management and others

15 September 2017

United States Court of Appeals (Tenth Circuit)

Case No. 15-8106

Date: 15 September 2017

Judges: Briscoe, McKay and Balrock

In this matter, the WildEarth Guradians and the Sierra Club (the petitioners) challenged the decision of the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to grant new mining leases for four coal mining operations in Wyoming. In particular, the petitioners challenged the finding of the BLM that a decision not to grant the said mining leases would not result in decreased carbon dioxide emissions because it would simply mean that the coal would be sourced from elsewhere as demand is stable. The petitioners argued that if the said leases were not granted, it will be very difficult for US or international coal mines to replace that quantity of coal at the same price, making other sources of electricity, with lower carbon dioxide emission rates more competitive with coal.

The court found that the decision of the BLM was arbitrary and capricious as the BLM failed to properly consider the environmental effects of all of the alternatives before it and therefore ordered the BLM to amend the environmental impact assessment study of the four leases. However, the court did not vacate the relevant leases, chiefly because mining on three of the four leases had already commenced and because the decision was challenged on such a narrow basis.

Download the judgment  

See also a press release put out by WildEarth Guardians about the case.