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Idaho Conservation League v. U.S. Forest Service

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20110
Nos. 1:18-CV-504-BLW, (D. Idaho, 05/04/2020) (Winmill, J.)

A district court vacated an EA and FONSI issued by the Forest Service approving a mining company to explore for gold on public lands near the Idaho-Montana border. Environmental groups previously argued before the court that the Forest Service failed to take a hard look at the impacts on groundwater quality, as required by NEPA. The court found that the agency never addressed in its EA whether the company's lack of groundwater monitoring in one of the areas where mining would occur was proper, and thus remanded to the Service. In response to the ruling, the company announced it would proceed with the project in all areas other than the one that lacked groundwater monitoring. The court found that allowing the project to proceed in such a way would violate a central principle of NEPA that an action be considered as a whole. It therefore amended its previous ruling and vacated the EA and FONSI issued by the Service.