OTR Far from a done deal
January 26, 2015: ROAR Files Notice to Appeal:
After reviewing the January 2 Federal Court judicial opinion - and keeping with our commitment to prevent the OTR project from ever being allowed to happen - ROAR's "Notice to Appeal" was filed today in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Court.
ROAR believes the court failed to properly apply the conditions in the relevant BLM land management plans for the Arkansas River Headwaters Recreation Area, land management plans that clearly do not provide for an industrial scale project like Christo's Over The River project. ROAR will file the details of the appeal to the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals within the next fourteen days. We will also post that detailed statement on this website.
Court Ruling Announced Friday, January 2, 2015: Judge William J. Martinez (Federal District Court, Colorado) issued his opinion upholding the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) approval of Christo's "Over the River" (OTR)Project along the Arkansas River in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.
ROAR was understandably disappointed in the court's decision to defer to BLM's approval of OTR despite the project's destructive and dangerous nature. ROAR is still reviewing the judicial opinion and considering other steps to prevent the OTR project from ever being allowed to happen, including the possibility of an appeal.
The Short Version: This is a ruling on procedure, not on OTR itself. The Court's Opinion notes that:
Courts are generally required to defer to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulations; NEPA professes no public policy concerning the protection of the environment or natural resources; rather, it requires only that an agency take a ‘hard look’ at the environmental consequences of any major federal action; Petitioner [ROAR] has noted various environmental effects that the Project will have on federal lands in the United States, but its argument essentially boils down to a disagreement with the BLM’s approval of the Project Such disagreement is not sufficient to warrant reversal. As long as an agency has complied with the procedural requirements of NEPA, the Court should not second-guess that agency’s decision.
While the Court found that BLM 'technically' complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA), in no way does the court dismiss the destructive nature of the Over the River project