Thursday, July 2, 2009

Alaska Wilderness v. Kempthorne, Et. Al.

Jun 30: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case Nos. 07-71989 and 07-72183. Petitioners in this case challenge the Minerals Management Service’s (MMS) approval of Respondent-Intervenor Shell Offshore Inc.’s (Shell) 2007-2009 Beaufort Sea Plan of Exploration (EP). On May 5, 2009, however, Shell withdrew its EP, and the MMS subsequently rescinded its prior approval of that EP. The MMS characterized the EP as “null and void” and declared that it “will not consider nor approve any exploratory drilling activity under this EP.”

The Appeals Court said, "The MMS’s rescission of its approval of the EP, which was the agency action at issue in this appeal, renders Petitioners’ challenge moot. Accordingly, Shell’s unopposed 'Motion to Dismiss Appeal as Moot' is granted. This appeal is dismissed as moot. The parties shall bear their own costs on appeal. A certified copy of this order shall serve as the mandate of this court."

Access the court order (click here).

Geerston Seed Farms v. Monsanto Co.

Jun 24: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 07-16458, 07-16492, & 07-16725. This ruling affirms a major ruling under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) involving many Plaintiff and Defendant Appellees and Intervenors on both sides involving the controversial practice of genetically modified crops, in this case specifically herbicide resistant alfalfa manufactured by Monsanto. The original decision was issued on September 2, 2008 [See WIMS 9/4/08]. In the latest action, the Ninth Circuit, has voted to deny the petition for panel rehearing and recommend denial of the petition for rehearing en banc. The full court was advised of the petition for rehearing en banc and no Judge has requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter en banc. The Appeals Court ruled, "The petition for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc is denied. No further petitions for rehearing will be accepted."

The ruling affirms an injunction entered by the district court in May 2007, enjoining future planting of Monsanto alfalfa, called “Roundup Ready alfalfa,” pending the preparation by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), of an environmental impact statement (EIS). The injunction was sought by plaintiffs Geertson Seed Farms and Trask Family Seeds, conventional alfalfa-seed farms, together with environmental groups, because they fear cross-pollination of the new variety with other alfalfa, thereby possibly causing conventional alfalfa to disappear.

Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, lead plaintiff and counsel in the lawsuit said, “This ruling affirms a major victory for consumers, ranchers, organic farmers, and most conventional farmers across the country. Roundup Ready Alfalfa represents a very real threat to farmers’ livelihoods and the environment; the judge rightly dismissed Monsanto’s claims that their bottom line should come before the rights of the public and America’s farmers. This ruling is a turning point in the regulation of biotech crops in this country.”

Access the latest ruling (
click here). Access the 9/2/08 ruling (click here). Access a release from Beyond Pesticides (click here).