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WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Forest Serv.

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20165
Nos. No. 09-1089, (10th Cir., 07/24/2009)

The Tenth Circuit held that the owner of an underground coal mine may intervene in an environmental group's NEPA action concerning the U.S. Forest Service's approval of venting of methane gas from a mine. The lower court denied the motion, finding that the owner failed to show either that the government defendants would not adequately represent the mine's interests or that its interests "as a practical matter" would be impaired or impeded by the litigation. But the owner has a direct economic stake in the subject of the litigation. If the plaintiff is successful on its claims, operation of the mine will be impaired, or even halted. Moreover, the owner has established a possibility of inadequate representation. The government has multiple objectives and could well decide to embrace some of the environmental goals of the plaintiff. Accordingly, the owner is entitled to intervene as of right and the lower court's decision was reversed and remanded.