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Great Basin Mine Watch v. Hankins

ELR Citation: 36 ELR 20150
Nos. No. 04-16125, (9th Cir., 08/01/2006)

The court holds that the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) cumulative impact analyses prepared in conjunction with two gold mining permits it issued to a mining company violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). BLM prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS) for each permit. The first EIS states that cumulative mining emissions would be minimized due to the distance between projects, meteorological conditions, and the fact that not all projects would produce emissions concurrently. Yet nowhere is this statement supported by data broken down by mine, or even by cumulative data. The EIS also states that the project would cumulatively result in larger volumes of hazardous waste but that the volumes of waste could not be quantified until future hazardous waste generators were identified. At the very least, BLM could have quantified existing volumes of hazardous waste, but it failed to do so. Similarly, the second EIS' analysis of cumulative impacts on air is only five sentences long and includes no mine-specific or cumulative data. Nor does it contain any discussion of the cumulative impacts of sludge or hazardous waste disposal. Such vague and conclusory statements, without any supporting data, do not constitute a "hard look" at the environmental consequences of the action as required by NEPA. The EISs, therefore, are remanded.