Mountain States Legal Foundation Logo

Active Cases

Environmental Laws Legal Cases

Since its creation in 1977, MSLF has been one of the Nation's leading legal centers fighting environmental overkill and the use of so-called environmental statutes to achieve other public policy objectives. MSLF believes, not only in a sensible, science-based balance between environmental goals and economic growth, but in making people part of the environmental equation. MSLF has achieved a number of important legal precedents in its 25 year fight for reasonable environmental policy.

Western Organization of Resource Councils v. Bureau Of Land Management

Why We Fight:

Environmental groups should not be allowed to delay endlessly federal environmental studies by demanding consideration of so-called climate change.

Summary:

After the U.S. Bureau of Land Management completed studies pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), environmental groups sued demanding further studies regarding so-called climate change.

Legal Question:

Whether and if so to what extent should federal agencies consider climate change in federal environmental planning documents?

Plaintiffs:

Western Organization of Resource Councils; Montana Environmental Information Center; Powder River Basin Resource Council; Northern Plains Resource Council; Sierra Club; and Natural Resources Defense Council

Defendants:

U.S. Bureau of Land Management; Ryan Zinke; Kristin Bail; Rich Cardinale

Intervenors:

Intervenor Defendants:  Cloud Peak Energy, Inc.; State of Wyoming; Peabody Caballo Mining; BTU Western Resources

Amicus Curiae:

Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW), represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF)

Court:

United States District Court of the United States District Court for the District of Montana – Great Falls Division

A decision by the Montana federal district court

On March 5, 2016, several environmental groups sued seeking revisions to Resource Management Plans (RMPs) in Montana and Wyoming, specifically the Buffalo, Wyoming RMP and the Miles City, Montana RMP.  They allege the Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Policy Act by not adequately considering any impacts on climate change of planned oil and gas leasing.

While in office, President Obama published climate change policies, which generally encouraged agencies to address climate change more thoroughly during NEPA reviews.  On March 28, 2017, however, President Trump signed Executive Order 13783, which rescinded those policies and ordered agencies to review existing regulations that “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with law.”  In addition, E.O. 13783 directed that the Council on Environmental Quality rescind, “Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews.”

On April 29, 2016, the Bureau of Land Management moved to dismiss the groups’ claims against the Buffalo RMP and/or transfer those claims to the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.  On January 25, 2017, the district court denied its motion to dismiss or sever.  Shortly thereafter the court granted motions to intervene as defendants from Cloud Peak Energy, Inc., the State of Wyoming, BTU Western Resources, and Peabody Caballo Mining.

On July 14, 2017, the environmental groups filed their motion for summary judgment.  On August 1, 2017, the Montana federal district court granted MSLF’s motion to file a friend of the court brief on behalf of its client, the Petroleum Association of Wyoming.  On August 1, 2017, PAW filed its friend of the court brief.

On July 14, 2017, the environmental groups filed their motion for summary judgment.  On August 11, 2017, the BLM filed its cross motion for summary judgment.  On August 17, 2017, PAW filed its amicus curiae brief in support of federal defendants and Defendant-Intervenors.  On August 18, 2017, the intervenors filed their cross motions for summary judgment.  On September 8, 2017, the environmental groups filed their combined response and reply.  On October 6, 2017, federal defendants filed their reply briefs.  On November 2, 2017, the federal district court held a hearing on the pending motions.

No Status Updates
  • Wyoming Association Relieved by Ruling on Green’s Climate Change Scheme

    Mar 26, 2018
    Wyoming’s oldest and largest oil and gas industry trade association today expressed relief with a Montana federal district court’s ruling in a lawsuit in which it filed a friend of the court brief to assist federal agencies and private parties in battling a scheme by environmental groups to require further environmental studies of “climate change.”
  • Wyoming Association Battles Green’s Climate Change Scheme

    Aug 17, 2017
    Wyoming’s oldest and largest oil and gas industry trade association today filed its friend of the court brief with a federal district court in Montana to prevent environmental groups from ending energy development in the Powder River Basin.
  • Wyoming Association Wins Approval to Help Battle Green’s Climate Change Scheme

    Aug 1, 2017
    Wyoming’s oldest and largest oil and gas industry trade association today won the approval of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana to assist federal agencies and private parties in battling a scheme by environmental groups to all but shut down environmental studies necessary for energy development by requiring endless reviews regarding so-called climate change.


Help protect constitutional liberties and private property rights, and promote limited and ethical government and the free enterprise system:

Donate Here