United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS United States District Judge
the State of Wyoming's Motion to Intervene;
Granting the State of Colorado's Motion to
Intervene; Granting the State of Utah's
Motion to Intervene
WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility
initiated this action to challenge the approval of oil and
gas leases on public lands in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.
Am. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 22. Plaintiffs sued the
Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior,
the Director of the United States Bureau of Land Management,
and the United States Bureau of Land Management-collectively,
the Federal Defendants. Plaintiffs allege that the Federal
Defendants violated the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-4370h. Am. Compl. ¶
1. In relief, Plaintiffs seek, inter alia, a
declaration that the “Federal Defendants' leasing
authorizations . . . violate NEPA, ” that the leasing
authorizations and leases be vacated, and an injunction to
prevent the Federal Defendants “from approving or
otherwise taking action on any applications for permits to
drill on the leases included in the lease sales challenged
herein.” Am. Compl. at 39. The Western Energy Alliance
(Alliance), Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW), and
America Petroleum Institute (API) sought and received leave
to intervene as defendants. See generally Mem. &
Order, ECF No. 19. Following that intervention, the Court
adopted the parties' case management plan, which split
the case into separate phases, with the Wyoming phase to be
briefed and decided first. See generally Order, ECF
State of Wyoming (Wyoming), the State of Colorado (Colorado),
and the State of Utah (Utah) subsequently moved to intervene
as defendants. Wyo.'s Mot. Intervene, ECF No. 30;
Colo.'s Mot. Intervene, ECF No. 37; Utah's Mot.
Intervene, ECF No. 39. The proposed intervenors conferred
with the existing parties, and no existing party opposed the
intervention.As discussed below, the Court grants
Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah's motions to intervene as a
matter of right.
Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a) provides that
[o]n timely motion, the court must permit anyone to intervene
who: claims an interest relating to the property or
transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so
situated that disposing of the action may as a practical
matter impair or impede the movant's ability to protect
its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent
Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2); see also Roane v.
Leonhart, 741 F.3d 147, 151 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (“A
district court must grant a timely motion to intervene that
seeks to protect an interest that might be impaired by the
action and that is not adequately represented by the
parties.”). According to the D.C. Circuit, Rule 24(a)
requires four distinct elements be satisfied where a party
seeks to intervene as a matter of right: “(1) the
application to intervene must be timely; (2) the applicant
must demonstrate a legally protected interest in the action;
(3) the action must threaten to impair that interest; and (4)
no party to the action can be an adequate representative of
the applicant's interests.” Karsner v.
Lothian, 532 F.3d 876, 885 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
Intervention as a Matter of Right
determine if a motion to intervene is timely, “courts
should take into account (a) the time elapsed since the
inception of the action, (b) the probability of prejudice to
those already party to the proceedings, (c) the purpose for
which intervention is sought, and (d) the need for
intervention as a means for preserving the putative
intervenor's rights.” WildEarth Guardians v.
Salazar, 272 F.R.D. 4, 12 (D.D.C. 2010). Here, Wyoming,
Colorado, and Utah moved to intervene approximately sixteen
weeks after the initial complaint was filed, and
approximately four weeks after the amended
complaint-reflecting the previous intervenors-was filed.
Under this Court's scheduling order, dispositive motions
will not be filed until June of 2017, and the Administrative
Record will not be available until March of 2017. Order, ECF
No. 24. No party argues that Wyoming, Colorado, or Utah's
participation would be prejudicial, or opposes their
intervention. See generally Wyo.'s Mot.
Intervene; Colo.'s Mot. Intervene; Utah's Mot.
Intervene. Without any indication of potential prejudice, the
Court thus concludes that intervention by the movants would
be timely. See Roane, 741 F.3d at 152 (“[I]n
the absence of any indication that [the applicant's]
intervention would give rise to . . . prejudice, [the
applicant's] motion was timely. . . .”); see
also WildEarth, 272 F.R.D. at 14; Karsner, 532
F.3d at 886.
the second and third factors, this Circuit has explained that
the “putative intervenor must have a legally protected
interest in the action, ” WildEarth, 272
F.R.D. at 12 (internal quotation marks omitted), and that the
action must threaten to impair the putative intervenor's
proffered interest in the action, Karsner, 532 F.3d
at 885. “The test operates in large part as a practical
guide, with the aim of disposing of disputes with as many
concerned parties as may be compatible with efficiency and
due process.” WildEarth, 272 F.R.D. at 12-13.
Wyoming benefits financially from federal oil and gas leases.
See Mem. Supp. Wyo.'s Mot. Intervene (Wyo. Mem.)
at 11, ECF No. 30 (“In 2009, the State received $460
million in severance and $479 in ad valorem tax revenues from
oil and gas activities in Wyoming.”). Of the billions
of dollars in royalty revenue generated by federal oil and
gas leases in Wyoming, about half is returned to the state.
Wyo. Mem. at 11. In addition, the Wyoming Oil and Gas
Conservation Commission and the Wyoming Department of
Environmental Quality worked with the Bureau of Land