Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation

Citation111 L.Ed.2d 695,110 S.Ct. 3177,497 U.S. 871
Decision Date27 June 1990
Docket NumberNo. 89-640,89-640
PartiesManuel LUJAN, Jr., Secretary of the Interior, et al., Petitioners v. NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION, et al
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

The National Wildlife Federation (hereinafter respondent) filed this action in the District Court against petitioners, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other federal parties, alleging that, in various respects, they had violated the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) in the course of administering the BLM's "land withdrawal review program," and that the complained-of actions should be set aside because they were "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law" within the meaning of § 10(e) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 706. Under the program, petitioners make various types of decisions affecting the status of public lands and their availability for private uses such as mining, a number of which decisions were listed in an appendix to the complaint. The court granted petitioners' motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, holding that respondent lacked standing to seek judicial review of petitioners' actions under the APA, § 702. The court ruled that affidavits by two of respondent's members, Peterson and Erman, claiming use of public lands "in the vicinity" of lands covered by two of the listed decisions, were insufficient to confer standing as to those particular decisions, and that, even if they had been adequate for that limited purpose, they could not support respondent's attempted APA challenge to each of the 1,250 or so individual actions effected under the program. The court rejected as untimely four more member affidavits pertaining to standing, which were submitted after argument on the summary judgment motion and in purported response to the District Court's postargument request for additional briefing. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Peterson and Erman affidavits were sufficient in themselves, that it was an abuse of discretion not to consider the four additional affidavits, and that standing to challenge the individual decisions conferred standing to challenge all such decisions.


1. The Peterson and Erman affidavits are insufficient to establish respondent's § 702 entitlement to judicial review as "[a] person adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute." Pp. 882-889.

(a) To establish a right to relief under § 702, respondent must satisfy two requirements. First, it must show that it has been affected by some "agency action," as defined in § 551(13). See § 701(b)(2). Since neither the FLPMA nor NEPA provides a private right of action, the "agency action" in question must also be "final agency action" under § 704. Second, respondent must prove that it is "adversely affected or aggrieved" by that action "within the meaning of a relevant statute," which requires a showing that the injury complained of falls within the "zone of interests" sought to be protected by the FLPMA and NEPA. Cf. Clarke v. Securities Industry Assn., 479 U.S. 388, 396-397, 107 S.Ct. 750, 755-756, 93 L.Ed.2d 757. Pp. 882-883.

(b) When a defendant moves for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff has failed to establish a right to relief under § 702, the burden is on the plaintiff, under Rule 56(e), to set forth specific facts (even though they may be controverted by the defendant) showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Cf. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265. Where no such showing is made, the defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id., at 323, 106 S.Ct., at 2552. Pp. 883-885.

(c) The specific facts alleged in the two affidavits do not raise a genuine issue of fact as to whether respondent has a right to relief under § 702. It may be assumed that the allegedly affected interests set forth in the affidavits—"recreational use and aesthetic enjoyment"—are sufficiently related to respondent's purposes that respondent meets § 702's requirements if any of its members do. Moreover, each affidavit can be read to complain of a particular "agency action" within § 551's meaning; and whatever "adverse effect" or "aggrievement" is established by the affidavits, meets the "zone of interests" test, since "recreational use and aesthetic enjoyment" are among the sorts of interests that the FLPMA and NEPA are designed to protect. However, there has been no showing that those interests of Peterson and Erman were actually "affected" by petitioners' actions, since the affidavits alleged only that the affiants used unspecified lands "in the vicinity of" immense tracts of territory, only on some portions of which, the record shows, mining activity has occurred or probably will occur by virtue of the complained-of actions. The Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the District Court had to presume specific facts sufficient to support the general allegations of injury to the affiants, since such facts are essential to sustaining the complaint and, under Rule 56(e), had to be set forth by respondent. United States v. Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures (SCRAP), 412 U.S. 669, 93 S.Ct. 2405, 37 L.Ed.2d 254, distinguished. Pp. 885-889 2. Respondent's four additional member affidavits did not establish its right to § 702 review. Pp. 890-898.

(a) The affidavits are insufficient to enable respondent to challenge the entirety of petitioners' "land withdrawal review program." That term does not refer to a single BLM order or regulation, or even to a completed universe of particular BLM orders and regulations, but is simply the name by which petitioners have occasionally referred to certain continuing (and thus constantly changing) BLM operations regarding public lands, which currently extend to about 1,250 individual decisions and presumably will include more actions in the future. Thus, the program is not an identifiable "agency action" within § 702's meaning, much less a "final agency action" under § 704. Absent an explicit congressional authorization to correct the administrative process on a systemic level, agency action is not ordinarily considered "ripe" for judicial review under the APA until the scope of the controversy has been reduced to manageable proportions, and its factual components fleshed out, by concrete action that harms or threatens to harm the complainant. It may well be, due to the scope of the "program," that the individual BLM actions identified in the affidavits will not be "ripe" for challenge until some further agency action or inaction more immediately harming respondent occurs. But it is entirely certain that the flaws in the entire "program" cannot be laid before the courts for wholesale correction under the APA simply because one of them that is ripe for review adversely affects one of respondent's members. Respondent must seek such programmatic improvements from the BLM or Congress. Pp. 890-894.

(b) The District Court did not abuse its discretion in declining to admit the supplemental affidavits. Since the affidavits were filed in response to the court's briefing order following the summary judgment hearing, they were untimely under, inter alia, Rule 6(d), which provides that "opposing affidavits may be served not later than 1 day before the hearing." Although Rule 6(b) allows a court, "in its discretion," to extend any filing deadline "for cause shown," a post -deadline extension must be "upon motion made," and is permissible only where the failure to meet the deadline "was the result of excusable neglect." Here, respondent made no motion for extension nor any showing of "cause." Moreover, the failure to timely file did not result from "excusable neglect," since the court's order setting the hearing on the summary judgment motion put respondent on notice that its right to sue was at issue, and that (absent proper motion) the time for filing additional evidentiary materials was, at the latest, the day before the hearing. Even if the court could have overcome these obstacles to admit the affidavits, it was not compelled, in exercising its discretion, to do so. Pp. 894-898 3. Respondent is not entitled to seek § 702 review of petitioners' actions in its own right. The brief affidavit submitted to the District Court to show that respondent's ability to fulfill its informational and advocacy functions was "adversely affected" by petitioners' alleged failure to provide adequate information and opportunities for public participation with respect to the land withdrawal review program fails to identify any particular "agency action" that was the source of respondent's alleged injuries, since that program is not an identifiable action or event. Thus, the affidavit does not set forth the specific facts necessary to survive a Rule 56 motion. Pp. 898-899.

278 U.S. App. D.C. 320, 878 F.2d 422 (1989), reversed.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, O'CONNOR, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 900.

Acting Sol. Gen. John G. Roberts, Jr., for petitioners.

E. Barrett Prettyman for respondents.

Justice SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case we must decide whether respondent, the National Wildlife Federation (hereinafter respondent), is a proper party to challenge actions of the Federal Government relating to certain public lands.


Respondent filed this action in 1985 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against petitioners the United States Department of the Interior, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7955 cases
  • Pacific Northwest Generating Co-op. v. Brown, Civ. No. 92-973-MA
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Oregon
    • April 1, 1993
    ...habitat area, assuming that plaintiffs could satisfy the level of specificity required for such claims under Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 110 S.Ct. 3177 — thus, the third parties' activity — such as grazing, must actually cause harm to salmon's habitat such that the ......
  • Forestwatch v. Lint, Civil Action No.: 8:12–CV–3455–BHH
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • September 29, 2015
    ...or is "adversely affected or aggrieved" by that action "within the meaning of a relevant statute." Lujan v. National Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 884, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 111 L.Ed.2d 695 (1990). Further, the party challenging the agency action must set forth specific facts to show that it is e......
  • Cent. Sierra Envtl. Res. Ctr. v. Stanislaus Nat'l Forest
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
    • August 6, 2019
    ...than a specific agency action that has "an actual or immediately threatened effect." ECF No. 85-1 at 9 (quoting Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 892-94 (1990)). The Court agrees that the TAC does seek relief in broad terms, but the violations identified in the various CSERC repo......
  • Ohio Vally Envtl. Coal., Inc. v. Fola Coal Co., CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:12-3750
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of West Virginia
    • December 19, 2013
    ...the challenged activity and not [merely] an area roughly 'in the vicinity' of it." Lujan, 504 U.S. at 566 (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 887-89 (1990)). Compare with Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Crown Cent. Petroleum Corp., 95 F.3d 358, 361 (5th Cir. 1996) (finding st......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
49 books & journal articles
  • Introduction to the CWA and the administrative process
    • United States
    • Introduction to environmental law: cases and materials on water pollution control - 2d Edition
    • July 23, 2017
    ...his new trend is elaborated in three opinions authored by Justice Antonin Scalia. In the irst case, Lujan v. National Wildlife Fed’n , 497 U.S. 871, 20 ELR 20962 (1990), plaintif challenged the wholesale reclassiication of 1,250 tracts of federal land, making them available for mineral expl......
  • The Rocky Road to Energy Dominance: the Executive Branch’s Limited Authority to Modify and Revoke Withdrawals of Federal Lands From Mineral Production
    • United States
    • Georgetown Environmental Law Review No. 33-2, January 2021
    • January 1, 2021
    ...Law and Policy, 17 B.C. ENVTL. AFF. L. REV. 473, 505 (1990) [hereinafter Coggins & Nagel, Watt]; see also Lujan v. Nat’l Wildlife Fed’n, 497 U.S. 871, 877 (1990) (referring to FLPMA’s public land and resource retention policy); Nat’l Wildlife Fed’n v. Burford, 676 F. Supp. 271 (D.D.C. 1985)......
  • Discrimination Based on National Origin, Religion, and Other Grounds
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Employment Law. Volume 2 - 2017 Part V. Discrimination in employment
    • August 19, 2017
    ...persons whose interests were intended to be protected by the statute. Id . at 870. Referring to Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation , 497 U.S. 871, 883 (1990), the Court deemed this interest the zone of interests and decided that Thompson, who was discharged to harm his fiancée, fell with......
  • List of Case Citations
    • United States
    • Wetlands deskbook. 4th edition Appendices
    • April 11, 2015
    ...Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 112 S. Ct. 2886, 22 ELR 21104 (1992) ...............142 Lujan v. National Wildlife Fed’n, 497 U.S. 871, 20 ELR 20962 (1990) ................................140 MacDonald, Sommer & Frates v. Yolo County, 477 U.S. 340 (1986) .................................
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT