Phil Taylor, E&E reporter
"In a move that suggests the Bureau of Land Management will not force mandatory reductions of oil-field greenhouse gas emissions, the agency last week lifted suspensions on most of the 61 oil and gas leases it halted last year as part of a legal settlement with environmental groups.
The 53 affected leases were issued in 2008 but suspended last March under an agreement with environmental groups seeking to force the agency to require oil and gas operators to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The other eight of the original 61 leases were terminated in the meantime, BLM said.
"There was no significant impact to the environment or other resource from lifting the suspended leases," said BLM spokeswoman Mary Apple.
Bans were dropped on about 25,000 acres of leases, with 6,667 acres left under suspension while BLM explores possible impacts to sage grouse and Yellowstone cutthroat trout -- but not climate change impacts, the agency said.
BLM in August released eight environmental assessments (EAs) and a separate report detailing the likely greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas drilling on public lands in Montana and the Dakotas." More>>>>