VICTORY! Judge Voids Nearly 1 Million Acres of Lease Sales in Sage-Grouse Habitat; Restores Public Involvement in Leasing

28th of Feb 2020

Advocates for the West won a significant victory yesterday when a federal judge overturned a Trump administration policy which curtailed public participation in oil and gas leasing decisions.

The court also granted Advocates for the West‘s request to void lease sales covering nearly 1 million acres of public lands — roughly a quarter of all acres leased by the Trump administration in the lower 48 — because the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to allow public participation required by law.

“The ruling is a major rebuke to the Trump administration’s energy dominance agenda, and a reminder of the public’s right to meaningful input in public lands decisionmaking,” said Staff Attorney Sarah Stellberg.

Today’s ruling is part of a broader lawsuit, filed on behalf of Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity, challenging BLM’s expansive oil and gas leasing across greater sage-grouse habitat. Trump’s Interior Department has sharply increased leasing in the bird’s priority habitat, despite its mandate to prioritize leasing elsewhere. 

Recent population estimates from multiple state wildlife agencies show that grouse populations are plummeting. Today’s victory is a critical step toward ensuring that sage-grouse and their habitats are protected.

This win comes on the heels of our recent preliminary injunction blocking the Trump Administration’s rollbacks to the 2015 sage-grouse conservation plans.