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Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance v. United States Department of the Interior

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20160
Nos. 2:13-cv-01060-EJF, (D. Utah, 10/03/2016) (Furse, J.)

A district court held that BLM violated NEPA when it issued a FONSI in connection with an energy company's application to drill 16 new gas wells at its natural gas plant in northeastern Utah. Environmental groups alleged that BLM violated NEPA by failing to take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts of the project in the EA, failing to consider alternatives that included appropriate mitigation measures, and failing to properly discuss or disclose incomplete or unavailable information. The court held that BLM did not err in its choice of alternatives to present, but it remanded BLM's FONSI because it failed to properly analyze impacts to air quality and recreational activity. On remand, BLM must consider updating its air quality analysis with Uinta Basin data and explain its choice, consider noise impacts and explain the impact or lack thereof, and revise or explain why it did not use a technical support document's forecast of reasonably foreseeable wells to conduct its cumulative impacts analysis.