BLM Sued Over “Unwarranted Loophole in Drilling Regulation

Western Watersheds Project filed a complaint against the Bureau of Land Management, alleging the defendant violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Mineral Leasing Act (MLA), and Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) with the issuance of a Permanent Instruction Memorandum (PIM).According to the complaint, the PIM would remove the BLM’s power to regulate surface operations involving directional drilling of federally-owned resources from non-federally owned estates, creating an “unwarranted loophole” disempowering the BLM’s oil and gas regulation.

The complaint was filed by Western Watersheds Project, a non profit organization with 12,000 members spanning the United States. The Western Watersheds Project aims to protect and restore the US’ public lands and natural resources.

The complaint asserts that the PIM, despite its violation of the MLA and FLPM, allows for unchecked extraction of publicly owned resources which would cause and has caused significant environmental and public harm to the communities near the drilling sites. The complaint alleges that since the PIM was passed, the BLM has passed hundreds of fracking and drilling operations regardless of their environmental and human health harm.

According to the complaint, the MLA and FLMPA require the BLM to regulate drilling operations affected by the PIM and prohibit the exemptions granted by the PIM in the first place.

The plaintiff seeks the following for relief: a declaration the PIM is unlawful, an order vacating and setting aside the PIM, injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees.

The plaintiff is represented by Advocates for the West.