Author ORCID Identifier
Almost one quarter of all U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from fossil fuels extracted from public lands, and these resources are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM has a statutory duty set forth in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) to coordinate management of various resources “without permanent impairment of the productivity of the land and the quality of the environment.” Continuing to permit fossil fuel development without adhering to a carbon budget violates this statutory duty. This Article argues that the BLM must address climate change in its decisions. It also proposes a legal strategy for requiring that all new onshore oil and gas wells that tap federal resources, including those on existing leases, achieve net-zero GHG emissions (for upstream and downstream emissions) as a condition of operational approval. While the following discussion focuses on the oil and gas permitting process, the same principles could apply to other permitting decisions.