WASHINGTON, May 1 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday halted nearly 300 oil and gas leases on a large section of federal land in Montana that had been approved by an agency of the Interior Department and ordered the agency to conduct a thorough environmental analysis of the impact of fracking on drinking water.
District Court Judge Brian Morris said in his ruling that the Bureau of Land Management did not factor in the environmental risks to Montana’s water supply before it made a blanket approval for oil and gas leasing on nearly 150,000 acres of federal land.
“BLM failed to take a hard look at groundwater impacts due to shallow fracturing and due to surface casing depth not extending past drinking water,” Morris said in his opinion.
Environmental group Wildearth Guardians, the plaintiff, had sued the BLM after it issued 287 leases in two lease sales, in December 2017 and March 2018. The group argued that the BLM violated the National Environmental Protection Act by failing to properly analyze the risks posed by drilling to drinking water and the climate and examine alternatives.
Morris vacated the leases issued from the two sales, vacated the BLM’s finding of […]