An 850-member environmental conservation society has sued the U.S. Forest Service (USFS ) and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM ) seeking to stop the agencies from permitting hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the Ozark National Forest. The Ozark Soc’y v. USFS, No. 11-782 (E.D. Ark. filed 10/31/11).
The complaint alleges that the agencies have issued gas-drilling leases without properly studying the impacts of gas leasing, exploration and development in the national forest in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NE PA). Plaintiff claims that defendants ignored the effects of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling on endangered species, roadless areas and scenic rivers and failed to follow NE PA regulations that require federal agencies to study the impacts of proposed major federal actions and present opportunities for public comment.
Alleging particularly intense development in the Mount Magazine Ranger District, where more than 40 wells have been completed since 2005, plaintiff seeks an injunction forbidding defendants from approving any drilling activity in the Ozark National Forest until they comply with NE PA and its implementing regulations, the Administrative Procedure Act and National Forest Management Act.