FRISCO — Conservation advocates say they will challenge the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of a 250-mile pipeline project designed to drain central Nevada aquifers and deliver water to Las Vegas.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s groundwater development project would siphon more than 27.4 billion gallons of groundwater per year from at least four valleys in central Nevada. According to environmental groups, the project would imperil dozens of species dependent on precious surface and groundwater in the driest state in the U.S.
“The federal government’s own scientists are confirming this Las Vegas water project would be an epic environmental disaster,” said Rob Mrowka, a Nevada-based ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s really no exaggeration to say that the natural, cultural and social heritage of central Nevada is at grave risk from this project.” Continue reading “Water: BLM OKs massive Nevada pipeline project”→
Letter to Corps of Engineers and EPA calls for careful scrutiny
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado water and environmental advocates say they’re concerned that fast-tracking the federal environmental review for the Moffat Collection System Expansion Project could lead the responsible agencies to leave out important information and not fully address the impacts of new water diversions from the Colorado River.
“We’re worried that that we’re going to hit fast forward and miss some things,” said Becky Long, water caucus coordinator with the Colorado Environmental Coalition, explaining why several groups recently wrote a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA, reiterating their concerns about water temperatures and sediment loading in the Colorado River and its tributaries.
Lawmakers urge caution and studies before approving massive exports of liquid natural gas
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — As the energy industry looks to boost sagging natural gas prices by exporting the resource overseas, a group of lawmakers, including Rep. Jared Polis, is asking the U.S. Department of Energy to take a close look at the potential impacts of those export plans.
Lawsuit over environmental studies and permitting continues
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The BLM said this week that it’s moving for a voluntary remand of three oil and gas drilling projects in Garfield County in order to study potential air pollution impacts.
According to a press release from Earthjustice, the BLM says it will not approve additional drilling permits implementing the projects until it completes its additional analysis, but environmental groups claim the agency has been using invalid studies to permit new wells on a regular basis.
According to Earthjustice, the BLM permitting has been a sort of regulatory shell game, with the agency using a study that doesn’t cover all of the geographic area for which it’s issuing permits. The voluntary remand covers the authorization nearly 400 oil and gas wells.
The permitting has been challenged in federal court by conservation groups represented by the public interest law firm Earthjustice. The groups — Wilderness Workshop, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Wilderness Society, and the Sierra Club — allege that the BLM violated federal environmental laws by approving oil and gas projects without conducting any environmental analysis of the air pollution they would cause.
Earthjustice attorney Alison Flint said the BLM’s decision doesn’t address the much larger problem targeted by the legal challenge. The three projects represent only a few examples of a broader practice in which BLM has approved at least 33 drilling projects – involving thousands of wells –with no air pollution analysis. Continue reading “Colorado: BLM plans new air quality studies for drilling”→
According to the agency, the draft environmental study for the trail project is almost complete and scheduled to be released in the coming months.
As one of the final steps, the Forest Service is doing a sound test on June 21 to try and assess noise impacts to areas closest to the proposed motorcycle track, including the Tenderfoot Addition to Dillon, Corinthian Hills, Summerwood, Summit Cove, Tennis Townhomes, Saints Johns Condominiums, and The Enclave. The test will be done between 5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.
Obliteration of old roads, dam removals would be OK’d under categorical exclusions
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service wants to speed restoration of national forest lands by streamlining the approval process for removing dams, and cleaning up debris and sediment and for reclaiming closed roads.
Under the proposal, now open for public comments, projects in those categories could be approved under a categorical exclusion, a type of review that isn’t nearly as extensive as an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement — all outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality recently issued guidance for the use of categorical exclusions. The CEQ concluded:
“Categorical exclusions have become the most frequently employed method of complying with NEPA. The extensive and expanding use of categorical exclusions underscores the need for clarifying guidance. Categorical exclusions are appropriate in many circumstances but should not be relied on if they thwart the purposes of NEPA, compromising the quality and transparency of agency decisionmaking or the opportunity for meaningful public participation. The guidance is designed to ensure that agencies appropriately and transparently establish and use categorical exclusions.”
Court rules that the Forest Service violated federal environmental laws by changing maps and approving logging
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Lynx in the northern Rockies got a boost from a federal court this week, as U.S. District Court Candy Dale halted a large lodgepole pine thinning project in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, on the western border of Yellowstone National Park.