Description: Challenge to the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of a vegetation management and restoration project in the Hoosier National Forest.
Monroe County Board of Commissioners v. U.S. Forest Service
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 03/30/2022 Order Download Motions for summary judgment granted in part and denied in part. Indiana Federal Court Directed Forest Service to Consider Project’s Impacts on Lake. The federal district court for the Southern District of Indiana found that the U.S. Forest Service failed to evaluate the impacts of a vegetation management and restoration project in the Hoosier National Forest on a nearby lake that was the sole source of drinking water for 120,000 people. The court rejected other claims under the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act. The court’s decision did not address allegations in the complaint related to the forest’s role as a carbon sink and the Forest Service’s reliance on long-term offsetting of carbon emissions. 05/13/2020 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuit Asserted That NEPA Analysis for National Forest Project Failed to Adequately Consider Climate Change Impacts. Local government entities, along with a local resident and environmental groups, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Indiana challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of a vegetation management and restoration project in the Hoosier National Forest. The complaint asserted claims under the National Environmental Protection Act, the National Forest Management Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The plaintiffs alleged that the Forest Service violated NEPA by, among other things, failing to engage in a complete analysis of the project’s impacts, including the release of carbon into the atmosphere when trees are cut and the forest floor is burned. The complaint described Hoosier National Forest as “a regionally significant carbon ‘sink,’” where stored carbon had increased by roughly 34% since the early 1990s. The plaintiffs contended that “significant scientific controversy and uncertainty” were associated with the Forest Service’s “reliance on long-term offsetting of carbon emissions in light of the scientific consensus established in the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s] 2018 report, which highlighted the urgency of reducing carbon emissions in the short term.” The plaintiffs faulted the Forest Service for failing to cite the 2018 report in its analysis of climate change.