Terry Tempest and Brooke Williams bid on oil and gas leases last winter in a U.S. Bureau of Land Management auction. The agency rejected their bids last month on grounds the couple had no plans to actually drill for oil and gas.
ed an appeal of that decision in hopes of limiting greenhouse gas emissions from the scenic land they’d bid on.
“We believe the BLM should be looking at Terry Tempest Williams just like it looks at all other lease bidders,” says the Williams’ attorney, Laura King of the Western Environmental Law Center.
She says oil and gas companies leave leases undeveloped, too, and she points to a report by the Wilderness Society that shows roughly 6,000 contracts put 20 million acres of BLM land in limbo because they’re undeveloped.
“The only difference is [that] she’s looking at the broader social costs of drilling on future generations,” says King, “not just on her own pocketbook.”
“This was not an easy decision,” says Terry Tempest Williams.
She hopes the appeal will be judged fairly even though government agencies may be less friendly to the cause in the new administration.
“Nevertheless,” she adds, “we believe that, for the future of our public lands, that belong to all of us, in the era of climate change, this is the right step forward.”
Brooke Williams says the BLM may only be trying to enforce its rules, but those rules were adopted in a different time.
“No one had a clue about the damage that burning carbon would do to the future,” he says, “We know it now, and it’s time that we took that into consideration and changed some of these rules.”
The request to reinstate Williams’ bid is now before a panel called the Interior Board of Land Appeals.