The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court decision that allowed the construction of a Nevada wind farm, rejecting claims that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated NEPA in approving its construction. W. Watersheds Project v. BLM, No. 11-15799 (9th Cir. 7/15/11) (unpublished). The wind farm project would involve the construction of more than 75 wind turbines, more than 25 miles of new roads, nine miles of fencing, two gravel pits, a microwave tower with overhead electrical lines, and other facilities.
In their complaint, plaintiffs alleged that BLM neglected to finish a complete analysis under NEPA and that the wind farm’s construction would have a significant impact on the environment, including wildlife such as golden eagles, bats, sage grouse, and rare plants. The complaint sought both preliminary and permanent injunctions. The district court denied plaintiffs’ bid for a preliminary injunction, finding that they were unlikely to succeed on their NEPA claim and that allowing the wind farm to proceed would not cause irreparable harm. Plaintiffs unsuccessfully appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
In a concurring opinion, however, one judge disagreed that plaintiffs would not prevail under NEPA, finding that “BLM failed adequately to consider the potentially significant cumulative impacts of the project and other reasonably foreseeable future actions.” Still, she concurred in the outcome because she found that the actual construction of the wind farm would not likely cause irreparable harm to either sage grouse or bats.