Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 7, 2023


Allison Henderson, Center for Biological Diversity, (970) 309-2008,
Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, (303) 437-7663,

Climate, Air Pollution Protest Targets Biden Fossil Fuel Plan for Colorado’s Front Range

DENVER— The Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians today challenged the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to continue fossil fuel leasing in eastern Colorado, including the Front Range. The Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan will govern 658,200 acres of public lands and more than 3 million acres of federal minerals, including oil, gas, and coal, for up to 20 years.

Today’s administrative protest says the Bureau violated environmental laws by failing to analyze climate science and plan alternatives to end new fossil fuel leasing, which is necessary to avoid the damage of warming 1.5 degrees Celsius. The plan also violates the Clean Air Act because more fossil fuel development will worsen air pollution in a region that already exceeds federal smog standards, the protest says.

“We’re deeply frustrated to see another Biden plan fail the unequivocal climate imperative to stop new fossil fuel leasing and phase out extraction,” said Allison Henderson, Southern Rockies director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Each Biden administration plan to allow more fossil fuel leasing will worsen the heat deaths, wildfires, drying rivers and wildlife extinctions already ravaging the country. The Bureau’s refusal to even consider a no-leasing alternative shows an agency completely untethered from U.S. climate goals.”

Since 2015 groups have called on the Bureau to ban new leasing in the region. Instead, the Bureau’s Eastern Colorado plan alternatives all allow more new oil, gas and coal leasing. This conflicts with calls by the United Nations and multiple scientific bodies to stop approving new fossil fuel developments and phase out extraction. Recent analyses show that wealthy countries must end all oil, gas and coal extraction by 2030 to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

The plan opens the door for the oil and gas industry to release more smog-forming pollution, even as the Denver and Front Range region are struggling to comply with federal ozone limits. Ozone, the key ingredient of smog, is a poisonous gas and drilling and fracking are major sources of ozone-forming emissions.

“The Biden administration is, unfortunately, blowing a chance to protect clean air and the climate in Colorado,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. “Instead of reining in drilling and fracking along Colorado’s Front Range, the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed management plan would give the oil and gas industry an ongoing free pass to pollute, putting people and communities at risk.”

More than 500 groups sent a letter to Biden last month urging him to phase down oil and gas production to near-zero by 2030.

Fossil fuel production on public lands causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. The Biden administration has failed to propose any policies to align the federal fossil fuel programs with decline curves necessary to avoid warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, the limit set by the United States and other countries. Federal data show that nearly 24 million acres of public lands, an area larger than the state of Indiana, are already leased to the oil and gas industry.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

WildEarth Guardians is a conservation nonprofit whose mission is to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Guardians has offices in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington, and over 278,000 members and supporters worldwide.

center locations