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Vermonters for a Clean Environment v. Madrid

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20007
Nos. 1:12-cv-73, (D. Vt., 12/24/2014) (Murtha, J.)

A district court dismissed an environmental group's NEPA and Wilderness Act lawsuit challenging the U.S. Forest Service's approval of a proposed utility-scale wind farm project in the Green Mountain National Forest in southern Vermont. The groups sought declaratory and injunctive relief to permanently enjoin construction of the project and to prohibit the Forest Service from issuing a special use permit. The Forest Service, however, fully complied with NEPA. The court rejected the group's claims that the Service's NEPA analysis was deficient with regard to: (1) bias and conflict of interest; (2) impacts on the George D. Aiken Wilderness; (3) purpose, need and range of alternatives; (4) blasting impacts; and (5) impacts on bats. The groups also alleged a violation of the Wilderness Act based on the project's proximity to the George D. Aiken Wilderness Area. But the Forest Service thoroughly considered the effect of the project on the Aiken Wilderness Area, concluding the project would not cause undue adverse impacts and therefore would not impermissibly degrade its wilderness characteristics. The court, therefore, upheld the Forest Service's issuance of a special use permit for the project.