Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dine Citizens Against Ruining v. Klein (DOI)

Aug 26: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Case No. 11-1004. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) under the Department of Interior (DOI) approved an application by BHP Navajo Coal Company (BNCC) to revise the mining plan at its Navajo Mine -- a large open pit coal mine on tribal reservation lands in northwestern New Mexico. Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment and San Juan Citizens Alliance (collectively Citizens) sought judicial review under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The district court concluded OSM had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-4370h, in approving the application and remanded the case for further proceedings. BNCC appealed from the district court's remand order. The Appeals Court said, "Lacking jurisdiction, we must dismiss the appeal as premature."
    The Appeals Court explained, "Our jurisdiction extends only to review of 'final decisions of the district courts of the United States . . . .' 28 U.S.C. § 1291. 'The purpose of the finality requirement is to avoid piecemeal review.' Bender v. Clark, 744 F.2d 1424, 1426 (10th Cir. 1984). 'A final decision is one that ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment.' Graham v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co., 501 F.3d 1153, 1156 (10th Cir. 2007) (quotations omitted). 'The remand by a district court to an administrative agency for further proceedings is ordinarily not appealable because it is not a final decision.' Bender, 744 F.2d at 1426-27; see also Trout Unlimited v. United States Dep't of Agric., 441 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2006); Baca-Prieto v. Guigni, 95 F.3d 1006, 1008 (10th Cir. 1996). This is often referred to as the administrative-remand rule. See, e.g., S. Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Kempthorne, 525 F.3d 966, 970 (10th Cir.2008); Trout Unlimited, 441 F.3d at 1218; Baca-Prieto, 95 F.3d at 1008"
    The Appeals Court notes that, "There is a 'narrow' exception to the rule 'when the issue presented is both urgent and important.' Trout Unlimited, 441 F.3d at 1218-19. . . In this case, although the issues may be important (an issue we need not decide),
they are not urgent. . ."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Energy/Coal, #CA10]

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