The environmental groups filed the lawsuit in the District Court of Washington, DC, against the Bureau of Land Management, saying the permit approvals in Wyoming and New Mexico violated several federal laws, including the Endangered Species Act.
Climate advocates have been keen to hold President Joe Biden to his campaign promise to ban all new oil and gas drilling on public land — a promise he has been unable to deliver on. But that promise has also recently become a political punching bag for Republicans as the price of gas has soared to over $5 per gallon amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The federal government’s oil and gas program accounts for almost one-tenth of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the nation,” said Kyle Tisdel, climate and energy program director with Western Environmental Law Center, in a statement. “The Bureau of Land Management has admitted that continued oil and gas exploitation is a significant cause of the climate crisis, yet the agency continues to recklessly issue thousands of new oil and gas drilling permits.”
“Fossil fuels are driving the extinction crisis, and the Bureau of Land Management is making things worse by failing to protect these imperiled species,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement.
A Department of Interior spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The American Petroleum Institute, a top fossil fuel trade group, responded on Wednesday to the letter, saying they “appreciate the opportunity to open increased dialogue with the White House” but that “the administration’s misguided policy agenda shifting away from domestic oil and natural gas has compounded inflationary pressures and added headwinds to companies’ daily efforts to meet growing energy needs while reducing emissions.”