By KEITH RIDLER, Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws by approving exploratory drilling by a Canadian company hoping to build a gold mine in Idaho west of Yellowstone National Park, according to two environmental groups.
The Idaho Conservation League and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition filed a lawsuit in United States District Court last week to stop Excellon Idaho Gold’s Kilgore gold exploration project in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in the Clark County.
Excellon Idaho Gold is a subsidiary of Excellon Resources Inc., based in Toronto, Ontario. It acquired the project from British Columbia-based Otis Gold Corporation in 2020.
Environmental groups filed a similar lawsuit in 2018 to stop exploratory drilling and won. The Forest Service in November 2021 approved a new plan involving the construction of roads and 130 drilling stations.
Groups involved in the new lawsuit said the Forest Service chose to approve the project by enforcing an executive order from former President Donald Trump speeding up the environmental review process, leading the Forest Service to ignore the likely significant effects of the drilling.
The groups also said the Forest Service should complete an environmental impact statement, a much longer review process.
The US Department of Justice, which defends federal agencies in lawsuits, did not immediately respond to a request sent through its online portal.
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