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Nevada Group Seeks Injunction Against BLM Leases

A conservation-minded citizens group in northeastern Nevada has filed for a preliminary injunction to block a disputed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lease sale until a more complete environmental review is done.

Attorney Glade Hall, representing the Reese River Basin Citizens Against Fracking, told NGI's Shale Daily he submitted a 39-page motion in the U.S. District Court for Nevada, but said no date has been set for hearing on the filing. Hall, a Reno, NV-based lawyer, earlier said the group is most concerned about water requirements and impacts from  hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

The motion for an injunction explains that a complete analysis by BLM is needed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to "fully disclose the risk to the environment posed by the probably employment of fracking in the areas proposed to be leased."

Hall stressed that the federal court has the discretion to spell out what he called "equitable relief" if it is found that NEPA has been violated as the citizens' lawsuit alleges.

"The BLM failed to take a hard look at the impacts of the sale of the oil and gas leases in Lander, Nye and Esmeralda counties because it ignored the cumulative impact of other oil/gas activities in conjunction with the lease sale," the motion states.

The focus of an initial lawsuit by the group filed in late June regarded the potential leases on 231,000 acres of public land in parts of the three counties (see Shale Daily,July 1). The lawsuit alleged that BLM failed to consider "many of the significant environmental effects of the oil/gas development that could occur" from the sale of the leases.

The group has expressed strong concerns about what it considers to be adverse impacts from the use of fracking, and has said BLM in its initial environmental assessment failed to adequately consider those impacts.  As a result, "irreparable harm" will result from BLM's "lack of due diligence" regarding environmental protection.

Because BLM has so far not produced a comprehensive environmental impact statement (EIS) for the lease sale, the agency has violated NEPA, acting "arbitrary, capricious and not in accordance with the [federal] law," the motion states.

"Fracking also requires the use of large amounts of water," Hall said in the motion. He cited the BLM  environmental assessment as estimating 2-5 million gallons of water could be required to frack one horizontal well in the Chainman Shale in east-central Nevada and western Utah and related formations.

BLM officials in Nevada had no response late Tuesday to the latest legal action.

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