The Sierra Club, a non-profit environmental interest group (plaintiff), challenged in federal court a decision made by R. Max Peterson, in his official capacity as Chief Forester of the U.S. Forest Service (the Service), and others (defendants), to issue oil and gas leases on 247,000 acres of land in Idaho and Wyoming known as the Palisades Further Planning Area (the Area) without an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Approximately 80 percent of the lease permits issued contained a No Surface Occupancy Stipulation (NSO Stipulation) attached to land areas that were “highly environmentally sensitive.” The NSO Stipulations prohibited surface disturbing activity unless approved by the Service. A permit without an NSO Stipulation required the lessee to complete additional paperwork prior to exploratory drilling activities, but was not barred from surface disturbing activity. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. Sierra Club appealed only with respect to lands leased without an NSO Stipulation.