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Colorado Environmental Coalition v. Salazar

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20142
Nos. 08-cv-01460, (D. Colo., 06/22/2012) (Krieger, J.)

A district court vacated and remanded BLM's resource management plan and EIS for the Roan Plateau Planning Area in Colorado. BLM considered a number of alternatives in its NEPA analysis, but ultimately decided to permit the leasing of 100% of the plateau for oil and gas drilling subject to various stipulations designed to provide significant environmental protection to lands atop the plateau. BLM's decision to exclude an alternative that prohibited leasing on the top of the plateau and setting that area aside for conservation and recreation purposes did not violate NEPA, since all but one of the features of this alternative were present in other alternatives that remained under consideration through the final EIS. But BLM violated NEPA in refusing to separately consider the "Community Alternative," which would allow drilling but leave most of the surface of the plateau undisturbed. In addition, BLM failed to sufficiently address the cumulative air quality impacts of its decision in conjunction with anticipated oil and gas development on private lands outside the planning area, and it failed to adequately address the issue of potential ozone impacts. BLM's decision, as embodied in the plan and EIS, was therefore was set aside.