National Forest Legal News Blog


Wyoming Judge Tosses Obama Drilling Rules

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on August 13, 2011 at 11:55 AM


The AP reports here that Judge Freundenthal of the Wyoming Federal District Court in Cheyenne has ruled agains the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management's attempt to slow down drilling permits.  The court ruled that the BLM and Forest Service had failed to follow the correct procedures in issuing a new interpretation of federal law that limited the use of "categorical exclusions," which exempt certain actions from full environmental oversight..  According to the AP article:

"In Wyoming, the BLM invoked categorical exclusions for 87 percent of the new gas wells drilled in the Upper Green River Basin between 2007 and 2010. Those drilling permits added up: Close to 3,000 over those three years in the basin's Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline gas fields."

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1 Comment

Reply Mike Dechter
05:36 PM on August 15, 2011 
My understanding of the ruling is not that the categorical exclusions were reinstated, but that the agencies cannot choose to apply the screening criteria (found in the Forest Service Handbook for the FS) to justify not using one of these categories when it clearly fits. The Forest Service would first need to go through a rule making process to do this.