A district court upheld BLM’s decision to issue the leases. But the environmental groups in January 2016 appealed the case to the 10th Circuit. In overturning the lower court’s ruling, the appeals court concluded the BLM’s analysis was arbitrary and capricious and that its decision-making record for the coal leases did not include any clear support for its conclusion.
The decision comes one month after a federal judge blocked a proposed expansion of an underground coal mine in Montana because the project’s climate change impacts were not adequately considered by the federal Office of Surface Mining. In the Montana case, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled the agency inflated the economic benefits of the Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountain coal mine while minimizing its environmental impact. The judge ordered the company to stop mining in the proposed expansion area pending further studies.