A federal judge in Missoula has approved a first-of-its-kind settlement requiring the government to suspend 38,000 acres of oil and gas leases in Montana so it can gauge how oilfield activities contribute to climate change.
At issue are the greenhouse gases emitted by drilling machinery and industry practices such as venting natural gas directly into the atmosphere.
…Under the deal approved Thursday by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, the Bureau of Land Management will suspend the 61 leases in Montana within 90 days. They will have to go through a new round of environmental reviews before the suspensions can be lifted.
"We view this as a very big deal, if a modest first step, in the BLM addressing climate change in oil and gas development," said plaintiffs' attorney Erik Schlenker-Goodrich. "It's quite a dirty process, but there are ways to clean it up."