Sierra Club v. Maniella, Civ. No. 459 F. Supp. 2d 76 (D.D.C. 2006)

Case Summary:

On behalf of the Sierra Club, Texas Committee on Natural Resources, and others, we challenged a Park Service policy regarding "directional drilling" -- i.e., drilling from a surface location outside a National Park to reach oil and gas beneath the Park. Under the new policy, in analyzing the impacts of the drilling, the agency must ignore the impacts of the surface operations, even where they take place immediately outside the park and pose concrete threats to park resources. Recognizing that the policy is irreconcilable with the agency's mandate to protect park resources, during the course of the litigation the agency changed course, and claimed that it actually does consider these impacts. In light of this development, the Court reviewed three specific drilling operations at Big Thicket National Preserve, and concluded that, in each instance, the agency had not meaningfully analyzed whether the surface activities associated with the drilling either risk impairing park resources or may have significant environmental effects. The Court therefore remanded all the decisions to the agency for further analysis.

Plaintiffs: Sierra Club, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club Ohio Chapter, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, and Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter

Court: United States District Court for the District of Columbia