Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation v. Kenneth Salazar (DOI)

Jul 23: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, Case No. 09-5162. The Appeals Court explains that in March 2007, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM or Bureau), an agency within the Department of the Interior (DOI), released a Record of Decision that established the Atlantic Rim Natural Gas Field Development Project (Atlantic Rim Project). The project was designed to manage the resources of more than 270,000 acres of publicly and privately owned land in south-central Wyoming. Shortly after issuing the Record of Decision, the Bureau began authorizing specific applications for permission to drill wells that accorded with the project.
    Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other environmental organizations filed for declaratory and injunctive relief in the district court, arguing the Bureau's Record of Decision, its accompanying environmental impact statement, and subsequent drilling permits violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Land Policy and
Management Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
    The district court granted summary judgment for the Bureau. The environmental organizations appealed from the judgment, alleging errors in both the administrative proceedings and the district court's evidentiary rulings. The Appeals Court affirmed the district court on all issues. The Appeals Court concluded, "Though Appellants raise claims of both procedural and substantive inadequacies in the Bureau's decisions concerning the Atlantic Rim Project, they have failed to show that any of those decisions were 'arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.' 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). Nor did the district court abuse its discretion when it excluded extra-record evidence from its evaluation. Accordingly, the district court's decision is affirmed."
    Access the complete opinion (click here).

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