A federal court in Colorado has vacated a decision by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM ) approving oil and natural gas drilling on the Roan Plateau, west of Rifle. Colo. Envtl. Coal. v. Salazar, No. 08-1460 (D. Colo. 6/22/12).
The court ruled that BLM violated the Administrative Procedure Act in its 2007 approval of a resource management plan and environmental impact statement prepared for the drilling project. The court also found that the agency did not take a “hard look” at the air quality effects from its decision, including the potential ozone impacts of the drilling and the potential impact from anticipated oil and gas development outside the planning area. In addition, the court held that BLM ’s failure to consider the effects of ozone and other emissions violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
The Roan Plateau is a 120,000-acre area located primarily in Garfield County, Colorado. According to the court, the area contains scenic, ecological and wildlife resources in addition to significant oil and gas reserves. Ten different environmental groups filed the lawsuit in 2008 arguing that the drilling plan would “sacrifice” the area for oil and gas development.