Friday, May 09, 2014

Dirty Drilling Will Hurt Uintas, Greens Say

An "insidious" federally approved 400-well oil and gas development project in a "biologically critical area" of Ashley National Forest will further pollute an airshed that already "periodically experiences some of the highest concentrations of ozone in the nation," environmentalists claim in court. WildEarth Guardians sued the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and three agency officers, in Federal Court. WildEarth, a clean energy advocate working "to safeguard the climate," claims the project, approved in 2012, violates the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and Utah water quality standards. Ashley National Forest, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, spans 1.3 million acres and six counties in northeastern Utah and southwestern Wyoming. "The 400-well project is being developed on 25,900 acres, or 40.5 square miles of the Ashley National Forest, 11 miles south of Duchesne, Utah," the complaint states. "The Forest Service has approved a development scenario that will continue for 55 years and entails the construction and operation of 400 oil and gas wells from approximately 162 well pads." The project will put at risk an "ailing" Anthro Mountain population of greater sage grouse, "which will be additionally imperiled by the project's roads, traffic, noise and industrial development and intrusion of oil and gas wells into sage habitats considered to be of crucial importance to the survival of the species," according to the complaint. The project and its infrastructure also threaten 20,000 acres of inventoried roadless areas, "the last remaining segments of the forest still characterized by pristine wildlife habitats, natural vistas, sources of clean water, quiet recreational opportunities and solitude," the complaint states...more

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