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Natural Resources Defense Council v. Kempthorne

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20305
Nos. No. 07-1709, (D.D.C., 11/30/2007)

A district court denied a request by five conservation groups to block the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) approval of roughly 90 new wells in a 2,000-well natural gas development southwest of Rawlins, Wyoming, based on the agency's evidence that it followed the National Environmental Policy Act procedures for public participation, examined a range of mitigation measures for the Atlantic Rim area sage grouse population, and undertook the required "hard-look" analysis. There is sufficient opportunity for public comment when notice of the permit applications were posted in the BLM regional reading room and notice of preparation of an environmental assessment was posted for a few weeks on BLM’s website. Further, plaintiffs are barred from raising Clean Water Act claims they failed to raise prior to filing suit, and even if such claims were allowed, plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail as discharges are likely to intermittent or ephemeral streams not considered waters of the United States under Rapanos. Finally, plaintiffs fail to demonstrate irreparable harm as claims are based on potential effects from gas development in the area as a whole as opposed to the wells at issue or that the public interest is served by issuing a preliminary injunction.