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Desert Protective Council v. United States Department of the Interior

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20048
Nos. 12cv1281, (S.D. Cal., 02/27/2013) (Curiel, J.)

A district court upheld BLM's approval of a record of decision (ROD) and its grant of a right of way (ROW) allowing the construction of a utility-scale wind project in California's Sonoran Desert. Conservation groups challenged BLM's actions under NEPA and FLPMA. But BLM's decision to grant the ROW and approve the ROD was reasonable as it considered all relevant factors and provided an analysis that presented a rational connection between the facts found and the conclusions it made based on relevant law. BLM conducted a thorough review of the potential impacts on birds, bats, and golden eagles. BLM conducted numerous studies and surveys by experts over a several year period, it consulted and coordinated with other federal and state agencies, and it addressed compliance with federal and state standards. In addition, BLM adopted mitigation measures, such as the Burrowing Owl Mitigation and Monitoring Plan, Golden Eagle Conservation Plan, and the Avian and Bat Protection Plan, to avoid or substantially reduce the impact of the project. The court, therefore, held that BLM's approval was not arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion. (Defense council included Nicholas C. Yost of SNR Denton in San Francisco, CA).