Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Hodel, No. Civ. S-84-616 RAR.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Writing for the CourtCraig C. Thompson, Attorney General's Office, Sacramento, Cal., for amicus curiae
Citation618 F. Supp. 848
Decision Date03 September 1985
Docket NumberNo. Civ. S-84-616 RAR.
PartiesNATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC.; Sierra Club; Wilderness Society; Defenders of Wildlife; Animal Defense Council; and Curt Spalding, Plaintiffs, v. Donald P. HODEL, as Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior; Robert F. Buford, as Director of the Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of the Interior, Defendants.

618 F. Supp. 848

NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC.; Sierra Club; Wilderness Society; Defenders of Wildlife; Animal Defense Council; and Curt Spalding, Plaintiffs,
v.
Donald P. HODEL*, as Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior; Robert F. Buford, as Director of the Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of the Interior, Defendants.

No. Civ. S-84-616 RAR.

United States District Court, E.D. California.

September 3, 1985.


618 F. Supp. 849
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618 F. Supp. 850
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618 F. Supp. 851
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618 F. Supp. 852
David B. Edelson, Johanna H. Wald, Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., Laurens H. Silver, Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Inc., San Francisco, Cal., for plaintiffs

Wells Burgess, George William Sherk, Land & Natural Resources Div. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., Andrew M. Wolfe, Asst. U.S. Atty., Sacramento, Cal., for defendants.

Craig C. Thompson, Attorney General's Office, Sacramento, Cal., for amicus curiae.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

RAMIREZ, District Judge.

The parties' cross-motions for summary judgment came on regularly for hearing before the undersigned on November 19, 1984. All parties were present and represented by respective counsel as was amicus curiae, STATE OF CALIFORNIA.1 The parties have in effect submitted the case for trial upon an agreed record since neither plaintiffs nor defendants have alleged that genuine triable factual issues exist.

On May 9, 1984, plaintiffs (five environmental and wildlife organizations and one individual) filed a petition for review and complaint challenging the final rules and agency actions of the Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior, "the Secretary," and the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, "the BLM." Based on the various issues presented and the status of the parties involved, the Court finds that jurisdiction is properly predicated on the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

INTRODUCTION

The case before the Court is complex and involves issues of national importance and first impression.2 The regulations under attack3 are amendments to existing Department of Interior regulations with one common characteristic. Each pertains to the management of domestic livestock grazing on lands owned by the federal government and under the management jurisdiction of the BLM. Plaintiffs maintain in this action that defendants' rules and actions violate dozens of sections of several comprehensive federal statutes, including, but not limited to: the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, 43 U.S.C. § 315, et seq.; the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), 43 U.S.C. § 1701, et seq.; the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978 (PRIA), 43 U.S.C. § 1901, et seq.; the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 551, et seq.; and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. § 4321, et seq. In substantial degree plaintiffs' positions are upheld in this opinion.

One issue which has dominated all others in the instant litigation is plaintiffs' challenge to the Secretary's so-called "Cooperative Management Agreements" (CMAs) by which defendants have permitted selected ranchers to graze livestock on the public lands in the manner that those ranchers deem appropriate.4 For reasons stated in this opinion, the Court rules that the CMA program is contrary to Congressional intent and was enacted without proper regard for the possible environmental consequences

618 F. Supp. 853
which may result from overgrazing on the public lands

The Court holds that the CMA program is not a Congressionally authorized experiment with public grazing permits but is instead a permanent system which could eventually be extended to millions of acres of public grazing land in the western United States. The cooperative agreements unlawfully abdicate the Secretary's statutory duty to prescribe for ranchers the appropriate number of livestock which may be grazed on each public land allotment or the permissible grazing seasons. The agreements also fail to retain necessary governmental authority to enforce overgrazing prohibitions by cancelling, suspending, or modifying permits on abused public allotments. The regulation and program, consequently, violate the spirit and letter of federal laws which are intended to preserve and improve the ravaged commons through intensive management and ongoing governmental rights of reentry.

Plaintiffs are also entitled to summary judgment on their challenges to regulatory amendments aimed at reshaping United States policy regarding regional and local land use planning, livestock feeding, and penalties against ranchers who violate federal and environmental laws. Defendants, on the other hand, are entitled to summary judgment on the remainder of the regulations under challenge.

I. PRELIMINARY ISSUES

A. Standing to Sue

In cases challenging administrative decisions the federal courts may not embrace general public actions in which all comers attack controversial agency decisions. Following the letter of the Supreme Court's extensive teachings on the subject of standing, courts must strive to avoid the danger of immunization of agency action while at the same time ensuring that each litigant possesses a sufficient stake in the controversy to justify judicial intervention.

In cases such as the one at bar, a four prong standing test is required. The first two prongs are Constitutional prerequisites, based on the Article III command that federal courts only hear "cases and controversies." The third and fourth prongs involve prudential considerations of restraint which guarantee, among other things, that the litigation will proceed with sufficient adversary vigor.

Based on the foregoing, the complaint and record must demonstrate (1) plaintiffs' "actual or threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the defendant," Gladstone Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 99, 99 S.Ct. 1601, 1608, 60 L.Ed.2d 66 (1979); (2) a causal connection between the injury and the challenged action such that the injury is "likely to be redressed by a favorable decision," Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization, 426 U.S. 26, 38, 96 S.Ct. 1917, 1924, 48 L.Ed.2d 450 (1976); (3) "particularized" legal rights and interests as opposed to "generalized grievances" or claims merely based on the rights of third parties, Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 499-500, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2205-06, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975); and (4) interests that arguably fall within the "zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute" in question, Ass'n of Data Processing Services Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 153, 90 S.Ct. 827, 830, 25 L.Ed.2d 184 (1970).

In the present case, plaintiffs have satisfied each of the four mentioned requirements. The first requirement may be satisfied by alleging "threatened" as opposed to actual harm. City of Davis v. Coleman, 521 F.2d 661, 670-71 (9th Cir. 1975). Individual and organizational plaintiffs have alleged that they or their members use the public lands for recreational and aesthetic purposes and that the challenged regulations will have an adverse impact upon their use and enjoyment of these lands.

Plaintiffs have also unquestionably demonstrated that their alleged threatened injuries "fairly can be traced to the challenged action," and are therefore, "likely to be redressed by a favorable decision."

618 F. Supp. 854
Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 472, 102 S.Ct. 752, 758, 70 L.Ed.2d 700 (1982). Congress, in enacting legislation regulating the public lands has determined that the very values and interests which are alleged to be threatened are those sought to be protected by the legislation. It is not for this Court, therefore, to hold that enforcement of those laws can have no causal connection to the protection of those values and interests. Moreover, plaintiffs by seeking relief aimed at eliminating the cause of the threatened injury, have established a clear connection between the alleged harm and the action requested of the court

To satisfy the third requirement, it is not necessary that plaintiffs' injuries are exclusive to themselves. So long as plaintiffs have asserted "distinct and palpable" harm to themselves, they may also "invoke the general public interest in support of their claim." Warth v. Seldin, supra, 422 U.S. at 501, 95 S.Ct. at 2206. The instant record details the specific nature of the alleged harm geographically and categorically. The allegations are not generalized or abstract but pertain to these particular plaintiffs.

Finally, plaintiffs have demonstrated that they are within the so-called "zone of interest" which Congress sought to protect by passage of laws pertaining to livestock grazing, environmental protection, and administrative process. Not only do the public land statutes mandate public participation, but they are aimed at preserving and protecting the aesthetic, environmental, and recreational values associated with public lands. Plaintiffs, as users of these lands, are certainly among the groups of citizens Congress intended to benefit when it required defendants to manage these lands by carefully regulating livestock grazing practices thereon.

In sum, plaintiffs, as users of the public lands and as participants in the administrative process, have established standing to challenge defendants' livestock grazing regulations, the procedure by which those regulations were promulgated, and the decision to enact them without first preparing environmental impact statements.

B. Standard of Review

This Court is empowered, to the extent necessary to decide the issues herein presented, to hold unlawful and set aside any of the actions or rules of the Secretary or the BLM which are not in accordance with law. 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). The Court should defer to the agency...

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11 practice notes
  • Buckingham v. SECRETARY OF US DEPT. OF AGR., No. 09-15893.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 29, 2010
    ...other needs and objectives as determined for the lands, involved." Id. § 222.1(b)(2); see also Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. Hodel, 618 F.Supp. 848, 859 (E.D.Cal.1985) (characterizing an AMP as "`the penultimate step in the multiple use planning process' and as `basically land use plan......
  • Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Norton, No. 01-4009.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • August 29, 2002
    ...1287, 1299 (10th Cir.1999) (noting how the BLM "shall manage" lands in accordance with LUPs); Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. Hodel, 618 F.Supp. 848, 858 (E.D.Cal.1985) (same). Relevant regulations similarly provide that the BLM "will adhere to the terms, conditions, and decisions of off......
  • National Audubon Soc. v. Department of Water, Nos. 85-2046
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 22, 1988
    ...of the diversion threatens further injury to the plaintiffs in the future. See National Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Hodel, 618 F.Supp. 848, 853 (E.D.Cal.1985). No prudential considerations argue against the plaintiffs' standing in this case. Thus, there is no reason to deny the plain......
  • Public Lands Council v. Babbitt, No. 96-8083
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • September 1, 1998
    ...process which would enable them to be managed by the Secretary of the Interior...." Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Hodel, 618 F.Supp. 848, 857 (E.D.Cal.1985). In 1978, the Secretary issued new regulations under FLPMA governing grazing administration, which effected significant c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Buckingham v. SECRETARY OF US DEPT. OF AGR., No. 09-15893.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 29, 2010
    ...needs and objectives as determined for the lands, involved." Id. § 222.1(b)(2); see also Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. Hodel, 618 F.Supp. 848, 859 (E.D.Cal.1985) (characterizing an AMP as "`the penultimate step in the multiple use planning process' and as `basically land use ......
  • Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Norton, No. 01-4009.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • August 29, 2002
    ...(10th Cir.1999) (noting how the BLM "shall manage" lands in accordance with LUPs); Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. Hodel, 618 F.Supp. 848, 858 (E.D.Cal.1985) (same). Relevant regulations similarly provide that the BLM "will adhere to the terms, conditions, and decisions of......
  • National Audubon Soc. v. Department of Water, Nos. 85-2046
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 22, 1988
    ...of the diversion threatens further injury to the plaintiffs in the future. See National Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Hodel, 618 F.Supp. 848, 853 (E.D.Cal.1985). No prudential considerations argue against the plaintiffs' standing in this case. Thus, there is no reason to deny the plain......
  • Public Lands Council v. Babbitt, No. 96-8083
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • September 1, 1998
    ...which would enable them to be managed by the Secretary of the Interior...." Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Hodel, 618 F.Supp. 848, 857 (E.D.Cal.1985). In 1978, the Secretary issued new regulations under FLPMA governing grazing administration, which effected significant chan......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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