Heartwood, Inc. v. Agpaoa, No. 09-5761

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtCOLE
Citation628 F.3d 261,71 ERC 2185
Docket NumberNo. 09-5761
Decision Date13 December 2010
PartiesHEARTWOOD, INC.; Kentucky Heartwood, Inc., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Elizabeth L. AGPAOA, Regional Forester; United States Forest Service, an Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, Defendants-Appellees.
628 F.3d 261
71 ERC 2185


HEARTWOOD, INC.; Kentucky Heartwood, Inc., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Elizabeth L. AGPAOA, Regional Forester; United States Forest Service, an Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, Defendants-Appellees.


No. 09-5761.

United States Court of Appeals,
Sixth Circuit.


Argued: Oct. 21, 2010.
Decided and Filed: Dec. 13, 2010.

628 F.3d 263

ARGUED: Joe F. Childers, Getty & Childers, PLLC, Lexington, Kentucky, for Appellants. Allen M. Brabender, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Appellees. ON BRIEF: Joe F. Childers, Getty & Childers, PLLC, Lexington, Kentucky, for Appellants. Allen M. Brabender, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Appellees.

Before: MARTIN, COLE, and CLAY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

COLE, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs-Appellants Heartwood, Inc. and Kentucky Heartwood, Inc. (collectively "Heartwood") are non-profit corporations active in forest and species protection. Heartwood appeals the district court's judgment granting Defendants-Appellees Elizabeth L. Agpaoa, the Regional Forester for the Daniel Boone National Forest ("Forest"), and the U.S. Forest Service (collectively "Forest Service") judgment on the administrative record. Heartwood claims that the Forest Service enacted the 2004 Forest Plan ("Plan") for the Forest in violation of the procedures mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., and the National Forest Management Act ("NFMA"), 16 U.S.C. § 1600 et seq. Specifically, Heartwood alleges that, in promulgating the Plan, the Forest Service failed to consider a "no commercial logging" alternative and account for the environmental effects of herbicide use through an environmental impact statement ("EIS"). Heartwood also challenges the Forest Service's environmental assessment ("EA") for the 2003 Ice Storm Recovery Project ("Project") in the Forest, undertaken pursuant to the Plan; on this issue, Heartwood argues that the EA inadequately addressed the effects of herbicide application in the Project. Heartwood brings these claims against the Forest Service, a federal agency, under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. § 551 et seq.

For the following reasons, we REVERSE the district court's judgment and REMAND this case to the district court with instructions to dismiss for want of jurisdiction.

I.

A. Statutory Background

Congress enacted NEPA "[t]o declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between

628 F.3d 264
man and his environment[, and] to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man." 42 U.S.C. § 4321. Under NEPA, "federal officials are required to assume the responsibility that the Congress recognized ... as the obligation of all citizens: to incorporate the consideration of environmental factors into the [federal] decision-making process." Envtl. Def. Fund v. Tenn. Valley Auth., 468 F.2d 1164, 1174 (6th Cir.1972). Officials comply with NEPA "primarily by [conducting] an [EIS] for any 'major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.' " Burkholder v. Peters, 58 Fed.Appx. 94, 96 (6th Cir.2003) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C)). An EIS is a "detailed statement" that describes:
(i) the environmental impact of the proposed action,
(ii) any adverse environmental effects which cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented,
(iii) alternatives to the proposed action,
(iv) the relationship between local short-term uses of man's environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity, and
(v) any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented.
42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C). If an agency does not believe that the federal action will have a "significant impact" on the environment, then NEPA's regulations permit the agency to conduct a less exhaustive EA. 40 C.F.R. §§ 1501.4(b), 1508.9. If the EA reveals a significant impact, then the agency must prepare an EIS; if it does not, then the agency may simply issue a finding of no significant impact. 40 C.F.R. § 1501.4.

Meanwhile, NFMA governs the National Forest Service and Regional Foresters' management of the national forest system; under that act, the Secretary of Agriculture must "develop, maintain, and, as appropriate, revise land and resource management plans for units of the National Forest System." 16 U.S.C. § 1604(a). A forest must be revised at least every fifteen years, or sooner if conditions in the forest "have significantly changed." Id. § 1604(f)(5). "Implementation of the forest plan is achieved through individual site-specific projects, and all projects must be consistent with the forest plan." Northwoods Wilderness Recovery v. U.S. Forest Serv., 323 F.3d 405, 407 (6th Cir.2003) (citing 16 U.S.C. § 1604(i); 36 C.F.R. § 219.10). The NFMA forest plans and site-specific projects must also comport with NEPA's requirements, including preparation of an appropriate EIS or EA.

B. Factual Background

Heartwood, Inc. and Kentucky Heartwood, Inc. are not-for-profit corporations involved in the protection of the forests and species of the eastern United States and Kentucky, respectively. Both organizations are interested in protection of the Forest in Kentucky.

1. The Plan

Until the consideration and passage of the current Plan, the Forest Service managed the Forest under a Forest Plan approved on September 27, 1985. Because of its duty to revise a Forest Plan at least every fifteen years, the Forest Service published notice that it intended to prepare an EIS to revise its Forest Plan on June 21, 1996. After a period of identifying the issues to be addressed, 40 C.F.R. §§ 1502.4, 1508.25, the Forest Service received numerous comments from the public, including Heartwood. These comments

628 F.3d 265
called for, among other things, the Forest Service's consideration of a "no commercial logging" alternative and no herbicide application.

After this process, the Forest Service completed its draft EIS on April 1, 2003. The draft EIS proposed eight alternative plans for management of the Forest, six of which the Forest Service considered in detail and two of which it did not. Of note, the Forest Service considered Alternative B-1, a minimal-management option, in detail, and considered Alternative B, a no-management option, not in detail. The Forest Service, meanwhile, recommended adoption of Alternative C-1, which emphasized maintenance and restoration of ecological processes while facilitating public enjoyment and recreation. During the next period of public comment, 40 C.F.R. § 1506.10(b)(1), Heartwood and others made numerous comments on the draft EIS. A number of these comments, echoing those sent earlier, protested the Forest Service's failure to consider a reasonable "no commercial logging" alternative representative of public opinion, or to discuss the effects of and limits on herbicide use. These comments further proposed several additional alternatives.

On April 16, 2004, the Forest Service issued...

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54 practice notes
  • Ky. Coal Ass'n, Inc. v. Tenn. Valley Auth., CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:14CV-00073-JHM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of Kentucky
    • February 2, 2015
    ...Tennessee Environmental Council, 2014 WL 3810740, *4 (citing 40 C.F.R. § 1508.11; 40 C.F.R. Part 1502); Heartwood, Inc. v. Agpaoa, 628 F.3d 261, 264 (6th Cir. 2010). "Prior to preparing an EIS, the agency may, however, prepare an EA as a preliminary step in determining whether the environme......
  • Ky. Riverkeeper, Inc. v. Midkiff, CIVIL ACTION NO. 05-181-DLB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Kentucky
    • July 14, 2011
    ...difference between "sufficiently detailed standing affidavits and insufficiently detailed standing affidavits." Heartwood Inc. v. Agpaoa, 628 F.3d 261, 268 (6th Cir. 2010) (discussing Ctr. for Biological Diversity, 417 F.3d at 537-38). The Court noted that, in order to establish standing, t......
  • Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n v. Sec'y of the Dep't of Transp., Case No. 17-10031
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • March 29, 2019
    ...a jurisdictional issue and federal courts have an independent duty to determine whether they have jurisdiction. Heartwood, Inc. v. Agpaoa, 628 F.3d 261, 266 (6th Cir. 2010).The Court finds that NWF member Francesca J. Cuthbert would have standing because she would suffer an injury from an o......
  • Ky. Coal Ass'n, Inc. v. Tenn. Valley Auth., Civil Action No. 4:14CV–00073–JHM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of Kentucky
    • February 3, 2015
    ...Tennessee Environmental Council, 32 F.Supp.3d at 883 (citing 40 C.F.R. § 1508.11 ; 40 C.F.R. Part 1502); Heartwood, Inc. v. Agpaoa, 628 F.3d 261, 264 (6th Cir.2010).“Prior to preparing an EIS, the agency may, however, prepare an EA as a preliminary step in determining whether the environmen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
52 cases
  • Ky. Coal Ass'n, Inc. v. Tenn. Valley Auth., CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:14CV-00073-JHM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of Kentucky
    • February 2, 2015
    ...Tennessee Environmental Council, 2014 WL 3810740, *4 (citing 40 C.F.R. § 1508.11; 40 C.F.R. Part 1502); Heartwood, Inc. v. Agpaoa, 628 F.3d 261, 264 (6th Cir. 2010). "Prior to preparing an EIS, the agency may, however, prepare an EA as a preliminary step in determining whether the environme......
  • Ky. Riverkeeper, Inc. v. Midkiff, CIVIL ACTION NO. 05-181-DLB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Kentucky
    • July 14, 2011
    ...difference between "sufficiently detailed standing affidavits and insufficiently detailed standing affidavits." Heartwood Inc. v. Agpaoa, 628 F.3d 261, 268 (6th Cir. 2010) (discussing Ctr. for Biological Diversity, 417 F.3d at 537-38). The Court noted that, in order to establish standing, t......
  • Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n v. Sec'y of the Dep't of Transp., Case No. 17-10031
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • March 29, 2019
    ...a jurisdictional issue and federal courts have an independent duty to determine whether they have jurisdiction. Heartwood, Inc. v. Agpaoa, 628 F.3d 261, 266 (6th Cir. 2010).The Court finds that NWF member Francesca J. Cuthbert would have standing because she would suffer an injury from an o......
  • Ky. Coal Ass'n, Inc. v. Tenn. Valley Auth., Civil Action No. 4:14CV–00073–JHM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of Kentucky
    • February 3, 2015
    ...Tennessee Environmental Council, 32 F.Supp.3d at 883 (citing 40 C.F.R. § 1508.11 ; 40 C.F.R. Part 1502); Heartwood, Inc. v. Agpaoa, 628 F.3d 261, 264 (6th Cir.2010).“Prior to preparing an EIS, the agency may, however, prepare an EA as a preliminary step in determining whether the environmen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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