WildEarth Guardians Files Appeal to Challenge the Bitter Lakes Habitat Protection Zone Environmental Assessment
The BLM sanctioned oil and gas lease development is based in generalized science, without proven and testable means to preserve hydrological resources in the Pecos Basin
WildEarth Guardians hereby submit reasons for appeal of the Habitat Protection Zone (HPZ) Environmental Assessment (EA), and FONSI. In the following detailed statement of facts the continued development of subsurface minerals under the auspices of this EA will violate the legal requirements of the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The BLM sanctioned oil and gas lease development is based in generalized science, without proven and testable means to preserve hydrological resources in the Pecos Basin. The evaluation of foreseeable impacts is inadequate, and cannot testify to the cumulative impacts of proposed development. Furthermore, the HPZ EA fails to adequately discuss the full value of aquatic habitats within Bitter Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (BLNWR); a resource which, in its present condition, provides rare reproductive habitat for seven federally listed endangered species. Three of the aforementioned seven species exist nowhere else, but the protected waters of Bitter Lakes and associated headwaters. The cumulative impacts of close to one hundred new oil and gas wells throughout the this upper watershed cannot be adequately gauged at present, and hence represent a real and imminent threat of jeopardy of at least seven federally protected aquatic obligate species breeding within the refuge.
For the reasons set forth above, BLM violated applicable law and policies by deciding to approve continued development of leases via the HPZ decision notice. Without performing a full EIS, and considering alternative values that would be harmed, the BLM would approve development of leases in this incredibly environmentally sensitive area. The public controversy and the potential for highly significant impacts requires that the BLM consider no-development.
Read the Appeal (PDF)