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Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment v. Jewell

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20172
Nos. 15-2130, (10th Cir., 10/27/2016)

The Tenth Circuit upheld a lower court decision denying environmental group's request to preliminarily enjoin the drilling of certain oil and gas wells in the Mancos Shale formation of the San Juan Basin in New Mexico. The groups filed a lawsuit under NEPA challenging 260 drilling permits in the Mancos Shale and moved for a preliminary injunction to prevent drilling on approved wells while the litigation is ongoing. The district court denied their motion, and the appellate court affirmed. The groups are not likely to succeed on the merits of their claims. Even with increased drilling in the Mancos Shale formation and the switch to horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracturing, the overall amount of drilling and related surface impacts are still well within the anticipated level set forth in the area's 2003 resource management plan. And any potential harm to the group was outweighed by the economic harms that the operators and the public would suffer if drilling was enjoined.