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 On March 28, 2017, however, President Trump signed Executive Order 13783, which rescinded those policies and ordered agencies to review existing regulations that “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources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 17, 2017, PAW filed its friend of the court brief.