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Nat. Res. Def. Council v. Nat'l Park Serv.

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20065
Nos. 2:16-cv-585, (M.D. Fla., 04/24/2017) (Steele, J. )

A district court found that the National Park Service (NPS) took a “hard look” at environmental impacts when it approved an oil and gas company's seismic survey in a Florida nature preserve. The oil and gas company requested that NPS allow it to conduct seismic tests in the Big Cypress National Preserve, and had a consulting company prepare a draft EA describing the impacts of the plan. NPS made revisions and requested public comment. In response to the comments, NPS further revised the planning and staging of the tests. NPS provided FWS with a biological assessment provided by the oil and gas company and revised it in accordance with FWS's comments. Finally, NPS issued a FONSI for the EA and approved the project. Environmental groups filed suit for injunctive relief, requesting that the NPS decision be vacated for violations of NEPA, APA and the ESA. The court disagreed, stating that NPS went beyond what was required as it is not required to seek comments on an EA. Further, NPS's consultation with FWS was adequate to satisfy the ESA.