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Park County Resource Council, Inc. v. BLM

Citation: 17 ELR 20124
No. No. C86-203-K, 638 F. Supp. 842/(D. Wyo., 06/25/1986)

The court holds that the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) environmental assessment (EA) for an application to drill an exploratory well on a federal oil and gas lease in multiple use land in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming adequately considered alternatives and potential impacts on a nearby wilderness area. The court initially holds that BLM's conclusion that the project will not significantly affect the environment is reasonable. The court holds that the EA's failure to discuss the alternative of delaying the project past the period when Big Horn Sheep inhabit the area is reasonable because the delay was impractical and could cause other adverse environmental consequences. The court holds that the EA's discussion of the project's impact on a wilderness area located over one-half mile from the site was reasonable since it discusses the environmental impacts on all surrounding land in general, the wilderness area is on high ground shielded from the site, and multiple use lands are not to be managed to provide buffer zones around wilderness areas. The court holds that BLM's decision to allow drilling before the Interior Board of Land Appeals issues a decision on plaintiffs' appeal of the granting of the application does not violate BLM's regulations.

Having concluded that plaintiffs have failed to prevail on the merits, the court next holds that they have failed to show that irreparable harm would result if injunctive relief is not granted. Plaintiffs have only alleged minor inconveniences to guests at a local dude ranch, and plaintiffs' concern over future expansion of oil development is speculative. Any harm suffered by plaintiffs is substantially outweighed by the economic harm to the oil company if an injunction were issued. Finally, the public interest is served by allowing the project to proceed.

[A related case appears at 15 ELR 21036.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Robert J. Golten
Fredericks & Pelcyger
1881 9th St., Suite 216, Boulder CO 80302
(303) 443-1683

Counsel for Defendant
Richard A. Stacey, U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 668, Cheyenne WY 82003
(307) 772-2124