Last month, a federal court ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct an additional environmental review of 283 oil and gas leases around Wyoming. The court found the BLM violated the law by not adequately considering the project’s potential impacts on climate change.
The federal agency gave the public 10 days to review its supplemental analysis — that ends today, April 22. Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program coordinator with Wildearth Guardians, the plaintiffs in the federal case, said 10 days isn’t enough time for public review.
“There’s a deep concern there that they are really just trying to rush through what there’s little public fanfare as possible,” he said.
Nichols said a minimum of 30 days is typical for public review. He said there’s a secondary concern too, "which is that because they’re rushing this analysis, they’re inevitably going to make mistakes. And I think it just speaks to the fact that they’re not taking seriously the judge’s ruling.
BLM staff said over e-mail they couldn’t respond given the case is still active. The supplemental environmental analysis doesn’t detail why public comment is only 10 days, including four weekend days.
The report does give both general and more specific explanations about the impacts of climate change to Wyoming and the oil and gas project’s contribution to it. One section detailed how Wyoming can expect temperatures to increase 0.25 to 0.40 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.
The BLM also analyzes the greenhouse gas contributions of all the foreseeable oil and gas projects from the past three lease sales. It finds those projects will add about 300,000 metric tons per year of direct carbon dioxide emissions. That’s about 17 percent of existing total carbon dioxide emissions.
The proposed action under consideration in court would represent 3 percent of that, or nearly 64,000 metric tons/year of direct carbon dioxide emissions.
The BLM also laid out alternative actions to the 283 leases including a “no action” option. The supplemental analysis does list ways to reduce emissions including flaring at higher temperatures and performing interim reclamation.
Public comment can be issued here.