Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Judge Grants Oral Arguments Regarding Injunction on Shawnee National Forest

Heartwood

A Federal judge in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Illinois has granted a motion filed by the Regional Association of Concerned Environmentalists (RACE) and the Audubon Council of Illinois to hold oral arguments over the motion filed by the U.S. Forest Service to lift an injunction against commercial logging and oil and gas development in the Shawnee National Forest, which has been in effect since 1997.

In 1997, RACE, Audubon and Sierra Club, represented by Tom Buchele (then-associate of Chicago law firm Jenner & Block), filed a lawsuit to challenge the 1992 amended land and resource management plan for the Shawnee. The court found that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) plan for the Shawnee did not comply with the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Specifically, the court found that the USFS Shawnee staff had not properly assessed the cumulative impacts of all of the actions in the plan in their environmental impact statement, and did not provide for adequate habitat for forest interior species. The court enjoined all commercial logging, off-road vehicle use, and oil and gas development until the agency corrected the violations.

In 2006, under the Bush administration, the Shawnee staff came out with a new plan. This plan authorized tens of thousands of acres of new logging, oil and gas development on most of the forest, and actually set aside less land for forest interior habitat than the 1992 plan did. The one bright spot was that the new Shawnee National Forest plan did outlaw all off-road vehicle use—a huge victory for those advocating preservation of the Shawnee.

Two years ago, the USFS asked opponents to stipulate that the 2006 plan was adequate to correct all of the deficiencies the court had previously found. The environmental groups refused to do so because the 2006 plan did not correct all of the deficiencies. Within the last year, the USFS filed a motion with the court asking that the injunction be lifted. Their basic argument was that they had produced a new plan, and that was good enough, regardless of what was in that new plan.

The Sierra Club dropped its challenge for undisclosed reasons, but Heartwood affiliate member RACE and the Audubon Council challenged the USFS motion, represented again by Tom Buchele (now director of the environmental law clinic at Lewis and Clark University in Portland, OR). The response opposed the USFS motion and pointed out the many deficiencies still in the new plan. The coalition asked the USFS to agree to have oral arguments in front of the court to discuss the issues, but the agency would not agree. Instead, USFS representatives wanted the court to lift the injunction strictly on the motions—they apparently didn’t want the court digging too deeply into this.

Recently, the court granted the motion filed by RACE and Audubon Council, and set oral arguments on the USFS motion for Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Benton, Illinois. It should be a very interesting day. Tom Buchele’s clinic is not charging attorney fees, but there are significant costs for travel, meals, and overnight accommodations for Tom and his student Ryan Talbott, a long time Heartwood activist and now Tom’s student. Heartwood, RACE and Audubon Council are all contributing funds to offset these expenses. The court hearing next month is open to the public.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less
Left: Lemurs in Madagascar on March 30, 2017. Mathias Appel / Flickr. Right: A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. National Marine Fisheries Service

A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.

Read More Show Less
Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular. Colin Dunn / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Julia Vergin

It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Data from a scientist measuring macroalgal communities in rocky shores in the Argentinean Patagonia would be added to the new system. Patricia Miloslavich / University of Delaware

Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.

EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.

Read More Show Less