Thursday, March 1, 2012

State of Wyoming v. NPCA

Feb 29: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Case No. 10-8088, 10-8089, & 10-8090. Appealed from the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming. As explained by the Appeals Court, in 1974, the National Park Service (NPS) adopted a default rule prohibiting the use of snowmobiles in all national parks except on designated routes. 36 C.F.R. § 2.18(c). Pursuant to the default rule, NPS must promulgate a special regulation designating specific routes open to snowmobile use in a particular national park. Absent such a rule, no snowmobiles are allowed. See id. (Snowmobiles are prohibited except where designated).
    NPS originally regulated designated routes, choosing not to set a limit on the number of snowmobiles permitted in the parks. 36 C.F.R. § 7.13(l)(2) (2000). In 1997, environmental and recreational groups began seeking to limit the daily number of snowmobiles permitted in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway (collectively, the parks). And over the past fifteen years, groups have continued to litigate the fate of snowmobiles in the parks.
    In the present cases, Petitioners the State of Wyoming and Park County, Wyoming filed petitions for review of agency action, challenging the 2009 rules governing snowmobile use in the parks. The district court dismissed the petitions for review, holding Petitioners lacked standing to pursue their claims. On appeal, Petitioners ask us again to weigh in on this ongoing saga. The Appeals Court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded the case to the district court for further review.
    Explaining further, the Appeals Court said, "Because we hold Petitioners' procedural challenge to the 2009 temporary rule as to Yellowstone is moot, that portion of the district court's order must be vacated and remanded to the district court to dismiss that portion of the case for lack of jurisdiction. Wyoming, 587 F.3d at 1254. As to Petitioners' remaining claims, we conclude that Petitioners lack Article III standing to bring their substantive challenge to the 2009 temporary rule as to Yellowstone and their entire challenge as to the 2009 permanent rule as to Grand Teton because Petitioners' alleged injuries are merely speculative. Accordingly, we need not address prudential standing."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Land, #CA10]
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