Greens Fight Fracking|in National Forest


     ALBUQUERQUE (CN) — Five environmental groups sued the federal government Tuesday to try to stop it from leasing 20,000 acres of the Santa Fe National Forest for fracking.
     The U.S. Bureau of Land Management created 13 new mineral leases in the national forest in October 2014, without required environmental impact studies and without considering the harmful effects of fracking, the San Juan Citizens Alliance et al. say in the federal complaint.
     In doing so, the BLM, the Forest Service, and the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, the groups say.
     The BLM “only analyzed the environmental impacts of vertical drilling and single-stage fracking and did not analyze the environmental impacts of oil and gas development using horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracking techniques,” according to the complaint.
     Toxic fluid byproducts of fracking could contaminate groundwater, and water required for the drilling will deplete local aquifers, the groups say. Land targeted for fracking provides habitat for “resident elk, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope populations, as well as golden eagle and Rio Grande cutthroat trout,” and several lease parcels abut the San Pedro Parks Wilderness, the complaint states.
     The environmental groups want the leases revoked and new ones enjoined unless full environmental studies are done.
     Plaintiffs include WildEarth Guardians, Amigos Bravos, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, and the Sierra Club.
     They are represented by Kyle Tisdel with the Western Environmental Law Center in Taos and Samantha Ruscavage-Barz with WildEarth Guardians.
     None of the parties returned telephoned requests for comment Wednesday.

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