The environmental group that sued over the leases praised Bush's ruling.
“This ruling sends a very strong message that the BLM can no longer lease public lands for fossil fuel development without weighing the outcomes for sensitive lands and wildlife,” Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, said in a statement Thursday.
BLM spokesman Brad Purdy declined to comment, citing agency policy not to discuss ongoing litigation. The agency’s allies in the case included the Western Energy Alliance industry group and the state of Wyoming, where Republican Gov. Mark Gordon was weighing whether to appeal.
“The governor is dismayed by Judge Bush’s ruling but is pleased that the leases have not been vacated," Gordon spokesman Michael Pearlman said by email.
The ruling comes amid a federal oil and gas leasing moratorium imposed by President Joe Biden's administration while it studies the effects on climate change.
Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver