Interior to reconsider social cost of greenhouse gas in Dakota oil leases
Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Biden administration has agreed to consider the climate impacts and the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions in a new environmental review of oil and gas leases in Montana and the Dakotas, according to a settlement with conservation groups.

The government agreed in a court filing Tuesday to carry out fresh environmental reviews to settle a lawsuit the groups filed in early 2021 claiming the original analysis for leasing on 58,000 acres failed to consider how drilling would impact groundwater or how its cumulative impacts would contribute to climate change.
The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management also agreed to consider the so-called social cost of carbon associated with the leasing, which is a calculation that attempts to place a dollar amount on the climate consequences of oil and gas development. The U.S. currently puts that cost at around $51 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions.

The settlement blocks drilling on those tracts already leased out by the Trump administration in 2019 and 2020 until the Bureau of Land Management completes its new review.

“Certainly they’re doing the right thing by going back and doing another look but I think there’s a lot of work to be done before we can celebrate,” said Tom Delehanty of Earthjustice, who represents plaintiffs the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and others.

BLM declined to comment.

The settlement comes as the Biden administration grapples with a global energy crisis but also campaign promises to end drilling on federal lands.

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