Sunday, August 7, 2011

New environmental complaint just in time for fall classes

If you like to share recently-filed complaints of interest with your incoming Civil Procedure students, here is one filed July 27, 2011 in the District of Idaho.   Environmental groups bring suit against the U.S. Forest Service for failing to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement before approving a mining exploration project located in the Boise National Forest.

The introductory portion of the complaint reads as follows:

Case 1:11-cv-00341-EJL Document 1 Filed 07/27/11

1.  This action challenges the United States Forest Service’s violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the National Forest Management Act (“NFMA”) in approving the CuMo Exploration Project, a mining exploration project located on Grimes Creek in the Boise River watershed, within the Boise National Forest. The Forest Service approved the CuMo Exploration Project through a Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (“DN/FONSI”) issued by the Boise National Forest Supervisor on February 11, 2011, based on an Environmental Assessment (“EA”) also issued in February 2011.

2. As approved in the DN/FONSI, the CuMo Exploration Project will include extensive road construction and around-the-clock drilling activities over much of the next five years within habitat for sensitive wildlife species, including wolverine, northern goshawk, and great grey owl, as the applicant Mosquito Gold drills hundreds of exploration holes to evaluate whether it can develop the CuMo site into the world’s largest open pit molybdenum mine. Despite the scale and disruptive impacts of the proposed exploration activities, the Forest Service approved the CuMo Project utilizing the EA and FONSI, rather than preparing a full Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) as required by NEPA.

3. The Forest Service has not evaluated how sensitive species in the area may be impacted by the road construction and drilling activities, and even approved the project before necessary wildlife surveys were completed. Yet the noise, disturbance, and human presence from the mining exploration may disturb these and other wildlife species, and impair their reproductive success – potential adverse impacts which the Forest Service failed to study, quantify, or fully disclose, in violation of NEPA.

4. The Forest Service also has no idea how groundwater may be impacted by the CuMo exploration drilling, even though the extensive drilling may alter groundwater hydrology and allow groundwater and/or surface water to become contaminated with arsenic and other hazardous substances, again violating NEPA.

5. The CuMo Exploration Project will also degrade riparian habitat along Grimes Creek and tributaries. Contrary to the requirements of the Boise Forest Plan, the Forest Service approved constructing roads, drill pads, settling ponds, and other structures within Riparian Conservation Areas, in violation of the “consistency” requirement of NFMA and implementing regulations.

6. Based on these and other violations of law, Plaintiffs request that the Court reverse and remand the CuMo EA and DN/FONSI, and enter other relief as prayed for below.

(Thanks to Courthouse News Service, Environmental Law Digest)

--Patricia Hatamyar Moore

http://ssrn.com/author=1111673

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/civpro/2011/08/new-environmental-complaint-just-in-time-for-fall-classes.html

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