Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pacific Rivers Counsel v. US Forest Service

Jun 20: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 08-17565. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. The Appeals Court indicates that, "This court's opinion filed on February 3, 2012, and reported at 668 F.3d 609 (9th Cir. 2012) [See WIMS 2/6/12], is withdrawn, and is replaced by the attached Opinion and Dissent. . . The full court has been advised of the petition for rehearing en banc and no judge of the court has requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter en banc. . . The petition for rehearing and the petition for rehearing en banc, filed on April 18, 2012, are denied."
    According to the Appeals Court, Plaintiff-Appellant Pacific Rivers Council (Pacific Rivers) brought suit in Federal district court challenging the 2004 Framework for the Sierra Nevada Mountains (the Sierras) as inconsistent with the National Environmental
Protection Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The Appeals Court said, "The gravamen of Pacific Rivers' complaint is that the 2004 EIS does not sufficiently analyze the environmental consequences of the 2004 Framework for fish and amphibians." On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court granted summary judgment to the Forest Service.
    The Appeals Court rules, "Pacific Rivers timely appealed the grant of summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the Forest Service's analysis of fish in the 2004 EIS does not comply with NEPA. However, we conclude that the Forest Service's analysis of amphibians does comply with NEPA. We therefore reverse in part, affirm in part, and remand to the district court."
    In a lengthy dissenting opinion, one Justice concludes, ". . .the majority makes two fundamental errors: First, it reinvents the arbitrary and capricious standard of review, transforming it from an appropriately deferential standard to one freely allowing courts to substitute their judgments for that of the agency. . . Second, the majority ignores the tiering framework created by NEPA. Because the majority ignores such framework, it fails to differentiate between a site-specific environmental impact statement (EIS) and a programmatic EIS that focuses on high-level policy decisions. . ."
    Access the complete opinion and dissent (click here). [#Land, #Water, #Wildlife, #CA9]
32 Years of Environmental Reporting for serious Environmental Professionals