Description: Challenge to renewal of grazing permits.
Western Watersheds Project v. Bernhardt
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/16/2019 Opinion and Order Download Motion for preliminary injunction granted in part. Federal Court Cited Absence of Consideration of Climate Change Effects in Granting Preliminary Injunction That Restricted Grazing on Federal Allotments in Oregon. The federal district court for the District of Oregon partially granted three conservation groups’ motion for a preliminary injunction barring grazing on certain allotments. The plaintiffs asserted that the federal defendants violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulations when they renewed the grazing permits of a family-owned Oregon ranching corporation whose officers had been convicted of intentionally setting fires on public lands and were later pardoned by President Trump. The court found that the plaintiffs had shown a likelihood of success on the merits of their NEPA claim and had demonstrated irreparable harm from the level of grazing authorized in the renewed permits (though not at the reduced level proposed by the defendants). In considering the defendants’ basis for arguing that there would be no irreparable harm, the court noted that evaluations and assessments on which the defendants relied did not consider the proposed grazing’s impacts in combination with other factors such as climate change or take into account current conditions such as the effects of climate change and fire. The court also said that the fact that grazing had taken place on the allotments in the past did not prevent the plaintiffs from demonstrating irreparable harm since circumstances had changed, including due to climate change causing increased temperatures.