Description: Lawsuit challenging three categorical exclusions adopted by the U.S. Forest Service to exempt certain projects from NEPA review.
Clinch Coalition v. U.S. Forest Service
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 01/08/2021 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Forest Service Categorical Exclusions Challenged in Virginia Federal Court. A lawsuit filed in the federal district court for the Western District of Virginia challenged three categorical exclusions adopted by the U.S. Forest Service to exempt certain projects from NEPA review. The three categorical exclusions are for commercial logging projects up to 2,800 acres and construction of up to three miles of logging roads; construction of up to two miles of permanent road for any purpose; and “special use” authorizations for private uses affecting up to 20 acres of national forest lands. The complaint asserted that the final rule violated NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act, including because the Forest Service did not consider the exclusions’ impacts in light of conditions that are rapidly changing due to climate change. The complaint also alleged that the final rule would allow significant climate impact to occur without analysis “[b]ecause there is no programmatic analysis of the cumulative impact of successive projects on carbon storage.” The plaintiffs contended that the Forest Service should have prepared an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment to address, among other subjects, the rule’s impact on efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.