Tuesday, August 18, 2015

U.S. District Court of New Mexico Denies Motion to Enjoin BLM from Approving Drilling Permits in the Mancos Shale Formation

On August 14, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico denied a motion to enjoin the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from continuing to approve drilling permit applications in the Mancos Shale formation.

The DinĂ© Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment sued BLM in March 2015 alleging that the agency’s approval of drilling permits violates the fundamental requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). In their claims, the environmental organization contends that BLM’s 2003 Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement did not analyze the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing for developing the Mancos Shale formation.

On April 11, 2015, the environmental organization filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent BLM from approving more applications for permits to drill in the Mancos Shale formation during the pending litigation.

The U.S. District Court denied the motion for preliminary injunction concluding that the environmental organization had failed to demonstrate the balance of harms between the parties.  As stated in the Court’s opinion, “[i]f the Court were to issue the requested preliminary injunction, and the Plaintiffs were to lose the case on the merits, then the Defendants would almost certainly lose whatever income their BLM-approved wells would have produced in between the issuance of the preliminary injunction and the resolution of the case. The Plaintiffs, on the other hand, will sustain only the enhanced possibility of an injury, rather than an injury certain, if the Court denies the Motion.”

The case remains pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico at docket no. 1:15-cv-00209-JB-SCY. 

Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow

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