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Center for Biological Diversity & Sierra Club v. Bureau of Land Management

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

March 31, 2013

CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY and SIERRA CLUB, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT and KEN SALAZAR, Secretary of the Department of Interior, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Center For Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Plaintiffs: Brendan R. Cummings, Center for Biological Diversity, Joshua Tree, CA; David Robert Hobstetter, Center for Biological Diversity, San Francisco, CA; Nathan D Matthews, Sierra Club, San Francisco, CA.

For The Bureau of Land Management, Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Department of Interior, Defendants: Romney Sharpe Philpott, LEAD ATTORNEY, United States Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Washington, DC.

For Amicus California Independent Petroleum Association, Amicus California Independent Petroleum Association, Amicus: Benjamin Gross Shatz, LEAD ATTORNEY, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, Los Angeles, CA.

OPINION

PAUL S. GREWAL, United States Magistrate Judge.

Page 1144

ORDER RE CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

(Re: Docket No. 28, 32)

Plaintiffs Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club bring their claims for declaratory and injunctive relief under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701-706. They challenge the decision of Defendants Bureau of Land Management (" BLM" ) and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to sell four oil and gas leases for approximately 2,700 acres of federal land in Monterey and Fresno counties. Plaintiffs now seek summary judgment that the leases were sold in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. Defendants oppose the motion and seek a summary judgment of their own. The court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. On January 15, 2013, the parties appeared for hearing.

Having considered the evidence of record and the arguments of counsel, the court holds that the BLM violated NEPA in its environment assessment of the leases by unreasonably relying on an earlier single-well development scenario. That scenario did not adequately consider the development impact of hydraulic fracturing techniques popularly known as " fracking" when used in combination with technologies such as horizontal drilling. Not only was the environment assessment erroneous as a matter of law, the BLM's finding of no significant impact based on the assessment and resulting decision not to prepare an environmental impact statement also was erroneous as a matter of law. The court further holds that although ...


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