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Greater Yellowstone Coalition v. Kempthorne

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20244
Nos. Nos. 07-2111, -2112, (D.D.C., 09/15/2008)

A district court vacated the National Park Service's (NPS') Winter Use Plan, which would allow 540 recreational snowmobiles and 83 snowcoaches to enter Yellowstone National Park every day. The plan is arbitrary and capricious, unsupported by the record, and contrary to law. It clearly elevates use over conservation of park resources and values and fails to articulate why the plan's "major adverse impacts" are "necessary and appropriate to fulfill the purposes of the park." Furthermore, the final environmental impact statement in support of the plan does not provide the decisionmaker with a clear analysis of the alternatives that the National Environmental Policy Act requires. According to NPS' own data, the plan will increase air pollution, exceed the use levels recommended by NPS biologists to protect wildlife, and cause major adverse impacts to the natural soundscape in Yellowstone. Despite this, the NPS finds that the plan's impacts are wholly "acceptable" and utterly fails to explain this incongruous conclusion. Put simply, the plan provides "no rational connection between the facts found and the choice made."