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Wilderness Workshop v. BLM

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20166
Nos. No. 08-1165, (10th Cir., 07/08/2008)

The Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision denying environmental groups' motion to preliminarily enjoin the construction of a natural gas pipeline through roadless national forest land. The groups failed to show a substantial likelihood of success as to their claim that the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) authorization of the project violated the U.S. Forest Service's roadless rule. BLM concluded there would be no violation of the rule because the proposed pipeline could be built within inventoried roadless areas without road construction, and BLM's interpretation of the term "travelway" as used in the rule is entitled to deference. The group is also unlikely to succeed on its claim that BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to consider the impacts of future natural gas development as a connected action. It appears that the pipeline will have independent utility, and, thus, BLM reasonably concluded it was proper to consider its environmental impact without further consideration of potential future gas well development. The development of additional natural gas wells is entirely speculative at this point. And the lower court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the balance of harms was equal between the parties.