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Citizens for a Healthy Community v. United States Bureau of Land Management

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20195
Nos. 17-cv-02519-LTB-GPG, (D. Colo., 12/10/2019) (Babcock, J.)

A district court enjoined approved permits and suspended applications for new permits for oil and gas development in Colorado until BLM completes its analysis of reasonably foreseeable indirect impacts. In a previous ruling, the court concluded that BLM had failed to sufficiently explain the scope of cumulative impacts on mule deer and elk, and ordered the agency to clarify the area used in analyzing the development's impacts on the species. In a subsequent hearing on remedies, BLM cited the existing record to demonstrate that the area extended 10 miles beyond the development's boundaries in all directions. The court found that the area did in fact extend well beyond the development's boundaries with respect to other significant activities that could impact the species, and thus concluded that BLM did not violate NEPA by failing to take a hard look at these impacts. But in the previous ruling, the court also concluded that BLM had failed to take a hard look at indirect impacts of oil and gas combustion, and ordered the agency to quantify and re-analyze these impacts. BLM quantified the estimated greenhouse gas emissions and provided its calculations to the court, arguing that the appropriate remedy for the NEPA violation was to remand for further analysis of the newly provided data. The court agreed that remand was appropriate, and therefore enjoined approved permits and suspended applications for new permits until the agency completed the analysis.