Thursday, September 5, 2013

Drakes Bay Oyster Company v. Jewell

Sep 3: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 13-15227. Appealed from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. In a split decision the panel affirmed the district court's order denying a preliminary injunction challenging the Secretary of the Interior's discretionary decision to let Drakes Bay Oyster Company's permit for commercial oyster farming at Point Reyes National Seashore expire on its own terms.
Drakes Bay challenges the Secretary of the Interior's discretionary decision to let Drakes Bay's permit for commercial oyster farming expire according to its terms. The permit, which allowed farming within Point Reyes National Seashore, was set to lapse in November 2012. Drakes Bay requested an extension pursuant to a Congressional enactment; however, the Secretary declined to extend the permit, and Drakes Bay sought a preliminary injunction.
    The majority ruled, "Congress authorized, but did not require, the Secretary to extend the permit. Congress left the decision to grant or deny an extension to the Secretary's discretion, without imposing any mandatory considerations. . . any asserted errors in the NEPA review were harmless. . . Drakes Bay's disagreement with the value judgments made by the Secretary is not a legitimate basis on which to set aside the decision. Once we determine, as we have, that the Secretary did not violate any statutory mandate, it is not our province to intercede in his discretionary decision. We, therefore, affirm the district court's order denying a preliminary injunction."
    The dissenting Judge said, "I think Congress, by including the 'notwithstanding' clause in § 124, intended to do more than that. In particular, it sought to override the Department of the Interior's misinterpretation of the Point Reyes Wilderness Act. . . I think Drakes Bay is likely to prevail on its claim that the Secretary's decision is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law. . . Because the other preliminary injunction factors also weigh in Drakes Bay's favor, injunctive relief preserving the status quo should have been granted here. . ."
    Access the complete opinion and dissent (click here). [#Wildlife, #Land, #Water, #CA9]

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