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Anglers of the Au Sable v. U.S. Forest Serv.

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20179
Nos. No. 05-10152, (E.D. Mich., 07/10/2008)

A district court held that the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in approving exploratory gas and oil drilling on a parcel of land within the Huron-Manistee National Forest. The agencies acted arbitrarily and capriciously in finding that the proposed drilling project would have no significant environmental impact. The defendants overlooked or insufficiently addressed at least four of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) intensity factors in issuing a finding of no significant impact. Nor did the agencies consider an appropriate range of alternatives to the proposed project as required by NEPA and CEQ regulations. Agencies may not define their own objectives in such narrow terms as to prevent the meaningful consideration of alternatives. The agencies, however, are entitled to summary judgment on environmental groups' claim under the National Forest Management Act alleging a violation of the forest's land and resource management plan (LRMP) because they failed to show that the Forest Service contradicted the terms of the LRMP. And the groups' cited no legal authority for their Mineral Leasing Act claim.