The suit against the Bureau of Land Management was filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Arizona. The parties filing the suit were the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians.
The leased lands lie in the Little Colorado River Basin and were leased by the Blm in September 2018, to oil and gas interests and the helium industry.
The suit says the Blm violated several federal laws by refusing to conduct new environmental reviews or consult with area tribes when it approved the leases.
Instead the agency issued two determination of National Environmental Policy Act adequacy checklists, claiming its resource management plan for the region from 1988 satisfied the agency’s legal obligations.
The Blm action threatens to pollute air and water including an important aquifer and spills could damage endangered species habitat, critics said.
Companies are targeting the Little Colorado Valley for helium fracking as helium prices have increased. There are more than 80 wells in the area that rely on acid fracking that uses high concentrations of acids to get to the helium.
The Blm lease sale was opposed by more than 80,000 people. The Navajo and Apache tribes opposed the federal plan, along with nearly 160 eco-groups.