On May 7, 2014, WildEarth Guardians filed a complaint in the US District Court, District of Utah, Central Division, against the US Forest Service and the US Bureau of Land Management, seeking to enjoin these agencies from approving oil and gas drilling in the Ashley National Forest, located in the Uinta Basin.

In a Record of Decision (ROD) based on a Final Environment Impact Statement (FEIS) and other documents, the Forest Service approved a 400-well project on February 12, 2012. This 400-well project on 162 well pads is being developed on 25,900 acres in the Ashley National Forest and will require the surface disturbance of 836 acres, 57 miles of new roads, 493 stripped acres for well pads, four four-acre compressor stations and 87 miles of natural gas pipeline.

WildEarth Guardians argue that the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management “failed in their legal obligations to take a hard look at the impacts of the 400-well Project on sage grouse [considered to be a threatened and endangered species], roadless areas and air and water quality and,…to prevent and mitigate the adverse consequences the project will have on these natural resource values.”

The agencies also failed to examine alternative actions that would allow development while still protecting sage grouse and roadless areas and while moving toward compliance with air and water quality standards.

On May 12, 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal protest with the Bureau of Land Management, opposing an upcoming oil and gas lease sale in Nevada that could open up more than 174,000 acres for oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing.

The group complains that the Bureau failed to adequately analyze the project’s impacts to water resources, air, wetlands, riparian zones, climate and sensitive species of plants and wildlife, including the sage grouse. The Center wants the Bureau to cancel the Nevada lease sale or, at a minimum, defer the sale until deficiencies in the Bureau’s environmental assessment can be addressed.

On May 16, 2014, WildEarth Guardians issued a statement complaining about a proposed 5,000-well fracking project covering 1.5 million acres in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, threatening the sage grouse population and greatly increasing greenhouse gas emissions.


This post was written by Barclay Nicholson (barclay.nicholson@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright’s Energy Practice Group.