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We’re Fighting a Plan to Open 188 Square Miles of Wyoming for Fossil Fuel Drilling

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The Wilderness Society and Friends of the Earth, represented by Earthjustice, filed a challenge June 29 to a federal government decision to offer leases on nearly 120,000 acres of public land in Wyoming to fossil fuel companies. These leases directly undermine national goals to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and combat climate change.

The Bureau of Land Management decision to proceed with the leases could put 188 square miles of land into the hands of polluting oil and gas companies, the emissions and climate change equivalent of adding hundreds of thousands of cars to the road. The court challenge to this decision reflects the commitment of Earthjustice and our clients to phase out the extraction and use of fossil fuels driving climate change, and to protect the Earth’s environment for the health of all living things.

A Fossil Fuel Wasteland 1/6th the Size of Rhode Island

  • The scope of the proposed Wyoming lease sale directly contradicts the Biden administration’s pledges to fight climate change.
  • Drilling on the Wyoming leases will cause billions of dollars of social and environmental damage by accelerating climate change. The leases will also contribute to air pollution, threaten groundwater contamination, and  disrupt wildlife habitat.

Undermining the President’s Commitment

  • When it took office, the Biden administration committed to review and reform the federal oil and gas program and address the climate impact of drilling on public lands.
  • The large Wyoming lease sale, however, will lock in extensive oil and gas development rights before reforms are adopted. 
  • BLM is violating the law by taking this step without explaining this departure from its own climate goals, and grappling with the enormous social and environmental costs from these leases.

A Bad Deal for the Country

  • Selling hundreds of square miles of leases to fossil fuel companies will do nothing to reduce fuel prices.  The oil and gas industry already holds nearly 25 million acres of such leases, and more than 9,000 approved drilling permits that companies are not using. 
  • The lease sale will, however, pad the bottom lines of the fossil fuel companies buying the leases, and further entrench their climate-damaging business model now and into the future.

To learn more about how leasing public lands to oil and gas companies hurts our planet, read this explainer.