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National Audubon Soc'y v. Kempthorne

ELR Citation: 36 ELR 20203
Nos. No. 1:05-cv-00008, (D. Alaska, 09/25/2006) permanent injunction granted

A district court enjoined the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from leasing approximately 1.7 million acres within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for oil exploration. The lease concerns vast areas of sensitive wetlands surrounding Lake Teshekpuk that are protected under the National Petroleum Reserve Production Act (NPRPA). BLM did not arbitrarily or capriciously fail to analyze and explain its decision to decrease the protection to wildlife and subsistence resources in the protected area in violation of the NPRPA. Nor did BLM abuse its discretion in failing to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) prior to adopting one of its alternatives in the final EIS. Similarly, BLM did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in analyzing the combined effects of the proposed oil development activities and climate change. Nevertheless, BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to fully consider the cumulative environmental effects of the lease sales in the eastern and western sections of the reserve. Likewise, BLM did not provide the best information available in its biological assessment of endangered species. The court, therefore, enjoined BLM from going forward with the lease.

[A prior decision in this litigation is digested at 36 ELR 20189].