Granite Rock Co. v. California Coastal Com'n

Decision Date14 August 1985
Docket NumberNo. 84-2146,84-2146
Citation768 F.2d 1077
Parties, 15 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,919 GRANITE ROCK COMPANY, a corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION, an Administrative Agency of the State of California, Defendant-Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Barbara R. Banke, Jess S. Jackson, Jackson, Jacobsen & Banke, San Francisco, Cal., James G. Heisinger, Carmel, Cal., Burton J. Goldstein, Goldstein, Barceloux & Goldstein, San Francisco, Cal., for plaintiff-appellant.

John K. Van de Kamp, Atty. Gen., Andrea Sheridan Ordin, N. Gregory Taylor, Joseph Barbieri, Linus Masourdeis, Asst. Attys. Gen., San Francisco, Cal., F. Henry Habicht, II, Peter R. Steenland, Jr., Anne S. Almy, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for defendant-appellee.

Norman C. Gorsuch, Juneau, Alaska, Michael Lilly, Atty. Gen., Honolulu, Hawaii, Brian McKay, Carson City, Nev., David Frohnmayer, Salem, Or., John D. Leshy, Tempe, Ariz., Robert K. Corbin, Phoenix, Ariz., Mike Greely, Helena, Mont., Paul Bardacke, Santa Fe, N.M., David L. Wilkinson, Salt Lake City, Utah, amicus curiae.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Before WALLACE and POOLE, Circuit Judges, and STEPHENS, * District Judge.

WALLACE, Circuit Judge:

Granite Rock Company (Granite Rock) appeals the district court's refusal to enjoin the California Coastal Commission (Coastal Commission) from requiring Granite Rock to obtain a state permit in order to continue mining on federally owned forest land. Granite Rock Co. v. California Coastal Commission, 590 F.Supp. 1361 (N.D.Cal.1984) (Granite Rock). We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291. We reverse.


Granite Rock is engaged in the business of mining chemical grade white limestone. Its mining operations involved in this appeal are located on an unpatented mining claim on land owned by the federal government in the Los Padres National Forest at Pico Blanco. Granite Rock acquired the mining claim at Pico Blanco in 1959 pursuant to the Act of May 10, 1872, ch. 152, 17 Stat. 91 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 30 U.S.C.) (Mining Act). It began mining the claim in 1981 after the United States Forest Service (Forest Service) approved its five-year plan of operations, which it had submitted as required for significant mining activities pursuant to regulations implemented under the Act of June 4, 1897, ch. 2, 30 Stat. 11, 35 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 16 U.S.C.) (Organic Administration Act).

In 1983, the Coastal Commission advised Granite Rock that the California Coastal Act, Cal.Pub.Res. Code Secs. 30000-30900 (West 1977 & Supp.1985) (Coastal Act), required the company to obtain a state permit to continue its mining operations. The California legislature passed the Coastal Act in 1976 pursuant to the state's inherent police powers, as a reenactment of a 1972 initiative, and as an implementation of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, 16 U.S.C. Secs. 1451-1464 (CZMA), which encourages state regulation of coastal zones. Granite Rock brought this action for declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent the Coastal Commission from enforcing the state permit requirement. Because there were no factual issues in dispute, Granite Rock brought a motion for summary judgment challenging the state's legal authority to require the permit.

The district court denied Granite Rock's motion for summary judgment and then dismissed the action. Granite Rock, 590 F.Supp. at 1364, 1375. The court first reasoned that the land on which Granite Rock's claim was located did not fall within the CZMA's exclusion from the state's coastal zone. Id. at 1367-70. The district judge then concluded that the permit requirement was valid because states have concurrent legislative authority with Congress to regulate activities on federal lands within the coastal zone, the mining claim was not a federal enclave subject exclusively to federal regulation, and no federal statute or regulation preempted the state requirement. Id. at 1371-74. Granite Rock appeals.


The property clause of the Constitution states that "Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States." U.S. Const. art. IV, Sec. 3, cl. 2. Granite Rock argues that this is a grant of exclusive legislative power to Congress. It argues that states acquire power to regulate the use of federally owned property only if Congress expressly grants this power to them. Thus, because the federal government holds the title to the land in question, Granite Rock argues that California had no inherent police power to regulate the mining activity. The Coastal Commission concedes that the property clause grants Congress legislative power over federal lands, but it argues that the power is not exclusive--that states have concurrent legislative power to regulate the use of federal lands unless and until Congress affirmatively exercises its property clause power to preempt state regulation. We need not resolve this dispute over the proper interpretation of the property clause, however, if Congress has exercised its power to preempt the state's permit requirement. We, therefore, turn initially to that issue.

The Supreme Court recently articulated the test for federal preemption:

[S]tate law can be preempted in either of two general ways. If Congress evidences an intent to occupy a given field, any state law falling within that field is preempted. If Congress has not entirely displaced state regulation over the matter in question, state law is still preempted to the extent it actually conflicts with federal law, that is, when it is impossible to comply with both state and federal law, or where the state law stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.

Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp., 464 U.S. 238, 104 S.Ct. 615, 621, 78 L.Ed.2d 443 (1984) (citations omitted) (Silkwood).

Granite Rock argues that the state permit requirement is preempted either by the CZMA or by the Mining Act and certain Forest Service regulations promulgated under the Organic Administration Act. It contends that the CZMA preempts the state permit requirement because the CZMA evidences an intent on the part of Congress to reserve exclusively to itself the power to regulate the use of lands excluded from the coastal zone and because the CZMA excludes the land in question. Granite Rock argues that the Mining Act and Forest Service regulations preempt the permit requirement because the requirement stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of the full purposes and objectives of the statute and regulations. It contends that the purpose of the Mining Act is to encourage mining and that the state permit requirement is an obstacle to accomplishing this purpose either because the state will prohibit mining altogether on the land in question or because it will condition a permit on unreasonable state environmental requirements.

The Coastal Commission argues that none of the federal law relied on by Granite Rock preempts the state permit requirement. It contends that the CZMA does not exclude the land in question from its coastal zone and thus, instead of preempting the permit requirement, the CZMA actually authorizes it. The Coastal Commission argues that if a previous act of Congress could conceivably be read as preempting the permit requirement, the CZMA neutralizes its effect over land within the coastal zone. The Coastal Commission also argues that the Mining Act does not preempt state environmental regulation of federal lands unless the regulation prohibits mining altogether and that the question whether the Coastal Commission will refuse Granite Rock's permit application based on a per se policy of prohibiting mining at Pico Blanco is not yet ripe.

We need not decide whether the CZMA evidences a congressional intent to take exclusive power over regulating the use of any federal lands excluded from the coastal zone if the Coastal Commission's argument that the CZMA neutralizes the preemptive effect of other federal law over lands within the coastal zone is incorrect. Under these circumstances, the Mining Act and Forest Service regulations provide a narrower ground for us to decide the preemption issue in this case.


The legislative intent is clear on whether the CZMA neutralizes other federal law which might preempt the state. The Conference Committee stated that "[t]he Conferees ... adopted language which would make certain that there is no intent in this legislation to change Federal or state jurisdiction or rights in specified fields." Conf.Rep. No. 1544, 92d Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in 1972 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News 4776, 4822, 4824. This passage refers to section 307(e)(2) of the CZMA, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1456(e)(2), which states that "[n]othing in this chapter shall be construed ... as superseding, modifying, or repealing existing laws applicable to the various Federal agencies."

Similarly, the Senate Report demonstrates Congress's intent not to restore state authority within the coastal zone if a federal act otherwise preempts it over a specific subject matter. In its statement of the CZMA's purpose, the Senate explained that the CZMA is merely a cooperative funding provision that "has as its main purpose the encouragement and assistance of States in preparing and implementing management programs to preserve, protect, develop and whenever possible restore the resources of the coastal zone of the United States." S.Rep. No. 753, 92d Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in 1972 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News 4776, 4776. The Senate indicated that the CZMA is designed to promote this purpose of "enhanc[ing] state authority," id., reprinted in 1972 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News at 4776, through the means of providing "Federal...

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