Federal judge blocks Trump administration from drilling on federal land, temporarily halting drilling on 300,000 acres of land leases in Wyoming.
A federal judge has ruled the Interior Department failed to consider the environmental impact of oil and gas leasing in the Western US states, which is a violation of US law, the Washington Post reports.
The March 19 decision by Judge Rudolph Contreras for the US District Court for the District of Columbia is the first to challenge the Trump administration’s plans to boost fossil fuel production.
In his decision, Contreras said the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when it decided to auction off federal land in Wyoming that would be used for gas and oil drilling.
The ruling will at least temporarily protect 300,000 acres of Wyoming land from drilling.
The ruling coincides with an aggressive push by President Donald Trump's administration to open more public lands to energy development.
It came in a lawsuit that challenged leases issued in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado in 2015 and 2016, during President Barack Obama's administration.
Only the leases in Wyoming were immediately addressed in Contreras' ruling. It blocks federal officials from issuing drilling permits until they conduct a new environmental review looking more closely at greenhouse gas emissions.
The case was brought by two advocacy groups, WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
President Donald Trump has made significant changes to environmental protections in the last two years. The Environmental Protection Agency has undone Obama administration regulations on coal and automobile emissions, according to National Geographic.
The president in 2017 also approved construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
Recent reports suggest the president plans to open federal waters to oil and gas drilling, including off the East Coast in the Atlantic Ocean, Reuters reports.