Conservation organization sues Interior over energy development

Conservation organization sues Interior over energy development

In late August, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Department of the Interior (DOI) for the agency's plans to allow 2,000 new oil and gas wells and to build 1,000 miles of road and 1,000 miles of pipeline on the Atlantic Rim of southcentral Wyoming, reports the Wildlife Management Institute. In an assessment of the area, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM; a DOI agency) acknowledged that "the natural setting would be converted to an industrialized setting by development" for multiple generations and "implementation of the [project] would have adverse impact to suitable habitat for many wildlife species."

TRCP is a nonprofit coalition of hunting, fishing and conservation organizations, labor unions and individuals. Its mission is "to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing by expanding access to places to hunt and fish, conserving fish and wildlife and the habitats necessary to sustain them, and increasing funding for conservation and management."

The lawsuit specifically asserts that BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the cumulative impacts of development and to consider a reasonable range of alternatives to the action. It also asserts violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, inasmuch as BLM has failed to uphold its multiple-use mandate for the land. TRCP contends that the approved energy plan would maximize development within the region without regard to implications for fish and wildlife and would not mitigate for losses of fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation.

"This suit is a major step for our organization and not one that we took lightly," said TRCP President and CEO George Cooper. "We reached this point only after exhausting every other avenue, including direct contacts in Washington and in the field and formal administrative appeals. But we strongly believe that, in the case of the Atlantic Rim, the evidence speaks for itself. And that evidence compels us to pursue all remedies available under the law."

September 07, 2007