"BILLINGS, Mont. -- A federal judge has approved a first-of-its-kind settlement requiring the government to suspend 38,000 acres of oil and gas leases in Montana so it can gauge how oil field activities contribute to climate change.
At issue are the greenhouse gases emitted by drilling machinery and industry practices such as venting natural gas directly into the atmosphere.
Environmentalists -- who sued when the Montana leases were sold in 2008 -- argued the industry has allowed too much waste and uses inefficient technologies that could easily be updated.
Under the deal approved Thursday by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, the Bureau of Land Management will suspend the 61 leases in Montana within 90 days. They will have to go through a new round of environmental reviews before the suspensions can be lifted."