For Immediate Release, June 21, 2019


Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414,

Trump Administration’s Eastern Colorado Plan Undermines State’s Climate Law, Triples Oil, Gas Pollution

DENVER― The Trump administration today released plans that could sharply increase federal oil and gas production in eastern Colorado, including the Front Range, undermining the state’s new climate law that calls for steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bureau of Land Management’s draft environmental impact statement and resource management plan forecasts dramatic increases in oil and gas production through 2037, tripling greenhouse gas pollution. Colorado’s new law calls for a 50 percent cut in climate pollution by 2030 and a 90 percent reduction by 2050 relative to 2005 pollution levels.

“The Trump administration is completely undermining Colorado’s efforts to cut climate pollution. You can’t solve a problem by making it worse,” said Taylor McKinnon, a senior campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This plan defies Governor Polis and state lawmakers, who have called for urgent action to scale back climate pollution. And it jeopardizes Colorado communities, wildlife and water.”

Under the plan the BLM’s annual oil production forecast for Colorado would more than double, to 2.22 million barrels by 2030. Gas production would triple, from 1.9 to 6.1 billion cubic feet. The annual climate pollution from both oil and gas production would nearly triple from 416,000 to more than 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The BLM refused to consider any alternative that would curb fossil fuel development. The agency rejected a call by climate and conservation groups to prohibit new oil, gas and coal leases in the region.

The BLM claimed it was unable to measure “the significance of impacts related to greenhouse gas emissions” and argued that stopping new leases in this single plan wouldn’t stop climate change impacts like warming, drought and wildfires. Yet the agency is currently updating 10 resource management plans, including those governing the nation’s largest source of climate pollution from federal coal production in the Powder River Basin.

“The BLM oversees dozens of resource management plans whose collective oil, gas and coal development causes nearly a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas pollution,” said McKinnon. “The agency is perpetuating the problem by failing to address each region’s contribution to climate pollution.”

The Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan encompasses 35 million acres from Colorado’s Front Range eastward, including 658,200 acres of public lands and 3.3 million acres of federal oil, gas and coal deposits.

Federal fossil fuel production causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution, and federal coal production by itself caused 13 percent of all U.S. CO2 pollution in 2014. Peer-reviewed science estimates that a federal fossil-fuel leasing ban would reduce carbon emissions by 280 million tons per year, ranking it among the most ambitious federal climate policy proposals in recent years.

Federal fossil fuels that have not been leased to industry contain up to 450 billion tons of potential climate pollution; those already leased to industry contain up to 43 tons. Pollution from already-leased fossil fuels on federal lands, if fully developed, would essentially exhaust the U.S. carbon budget for a 1.5 degree Celsius target.

Existing laws give Congress and presidents authority to end new federal fossil fuel leasing. Hundreds of organizations have already petitioned the federal government to end new onshore and offshore leasing.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.