Secretary of the Interior v. California Western Oil and Gas Association v. California California v. Secretary of the Interior, Nos. 82-1326

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtO'CONNOR
Citation104 S.Ct. 656,78 L.Ed.2d 496,464 U.S. 312
Decision Date11 January 1984
Docket Number82-1327 and 82-1511,Nos. 82-1326
PartiesSECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, et al., Petitioners, v. CALIFORNIA et al. WESTERN OIL AND GAS ASSOCIATION, et al., Petitioners, v. CALIFORNIA et al. CALIFORNIA, et al., Petitioners, v. SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR et al

464 U.S. 312
104 S.Ct. 656
78 L.Ed.2d 496
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, et al., Petitioners,

v.

CALIFORNIA et al. WESTERN OIL AND GAS ASSOCIATION, et al., Petitioners, v. CALIFORNIA et al. CALIFORNIA, et al., Petitioners, v. SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR et al.

Nos. 82-1326, 82-1327 and 82-1511.
Argued Nov. 1, 1983.
Decided Jan. 11, 1984.
Syllabus

Section 307(c)(1) of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) provides that "[e]ach Federal agency conducting or supporting activities directly affecting the coastal zone shall conduct or support those activities in a manner which is, to the maximum extent practicable, consistent with approved state management programs." CZMA defines the "coastal zone" to include state but not federal land near the shorelines of the several coastal States, as well as coastal waters extending "seaward to the outer limit of the United States territorial sea." The territorial sea for the States bordering on the Pacific Ocean or Atlantic Ocean extends three geographical miles seaward from the coastline. Submerged lands subject to the jurisdiction of the United States that lie beyond the territorial sea constitute the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). By virtue of the Submerged Lands Act, the coastal zone belongs to the States, while the OCS belongs to the Federal Government. In this case, the Department of the Interior (Interior), rejecting California's demands that a consistency review was required under § 307(c)(1), sold oil and gas leases of certain tracts on the OCS off the coast of California. Respondents (California and other interested parties) then filed suits in Federal District Court to enjoin the sale of some of the tracts, alleging that Interior had violated § 307(c)(1) in that leasing sets in motion a chain of events that culminates in oil and gas development and therefore "directly affects" the coastal zone within the meaning of § 307(c)(1). The District Court entered a summary judgment for respondents, holding that a consistency determination was required before the sale. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: Interior's sale of OCS oil and gas leases is not an activity "directly affecting" the coastal zone within the meaning of § 307(c)(1), and thus a consistency review is not required under that section before such sales are made. Pp. 320-343.

Page 313

(a) CZMA nowhere defines or explains which federal activity should be viewed as "directly affecting" the coastal zone, but the legislative history of § 307(c)(1) discloses that Congress did not intend the section to reach OCS lease sales. The "directly affecting" language was aimed primarily at activities conducted or supported by federal agencies on federal lands physically situated in the coastal zone but excluded from the zone as formally defined by CZMA. This reading of § 307(c)(1) finds further support in the history of other sections of CZMA. Pp. 321-330

(b) Nor is a broader reading of § 307(c)(1) compelled by the thrust of other CZMA provisions. It is clear that Congress believed that CZMA's purposes could be adequately effectuated without reaching federal activities conducted outside the coastal zone. Moreover, an examination of § 307's structure suggests that lease sales are a type of federal agency activity not intended to be covered by § 307(c)(1). Section 307(c)(3), which deals with private parties' activities authorized by a federal agency's issuance of licenses and permits, is the provision that is more pertinent to OCS lease sales, and that provision definitely does not require consistency review of such sales. Pp. 331-335.

(c) Congress has carefully codified the fine distinction between a sale of a "lease" and the issuance of a permit to "explore," "produce," or "develop" oil or gas. By the time the leases in question here were sold, it was clear that a lease sale by Interior did not involve the submission or approval of "any plan for the exploration or development of, or production from" the lease tracts. Since 1978, when the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953 (OCSLA) was amended, there have been four statutory stages to developing an offshore oil well: (1) preparation of a leasing program, (2) lease sales (the stage in dispute here), (3) exploration by the lessees, and (4) development and production. The purchase of an OCS lease, standing alone, entails no right to explore, develop, or produce oil or gas resources on the OCS. The first two stages are not subject to consistency review, but the last two stages are. Under OCSLA's plain language, the purchase of a lease entails no right to proceed with full exploration, development, or production that might trigger § 307(c)(3)(B)'s consistency review provisions; the lessee acquires only a priority in submitting plans to conduct those activities. Pp. 335-341.

(d) Even if OCS lease sales are viewed as involving an activity "conduct[ed]" or "support[ed]" by a federal agency within the meaning of § 307(c)(1), lease sales cannot be characterized as "directly affecting" the coastal zone. Since 1978, the sale of a lease grants the lessee the right to conduct only very limited "preliminary activities" on the OCS, and does not authorize full scale exploration, development, or produc-

Page 314

tion. Those activities may not begin until separate federal approval has been obtained. In these circumstances, the possible effects on the coastal zone that may eventually result from the sale of a lease cannot be termed "direct." Pp. 342-343.

683 F.2d 1253 (9th Cir.1982), reversed.

Sol. Gen. Rex E. Lee, Washington, D.C., for the Secretary of the Interior, et al.

E. Edward Bruce, Washington, D.C., for Western Oil and Gas Ass'n, et al.

Theodora Berger, Los Angeles, Cal., for the State of Cal., et al.

Page 315

Justice O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case arises out of the Department of Interior's sale of oil and gas leases on the outer continental shelf off the coast of California. We must determine whether the sale is an activity "directly affecting" the coastal zone under § 307(c)(1) of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). That section provides in its entirety:

"Each Federal agency conducting or supporting activities directly affecting the coastal zone shall conduct or support those activities in a manner which is, to the maximum extent practicable, consistent with approved state management programs." 16 U.S.C. § 1456(c)(1).

We conclude that the Secretary of the Interior's sale of outer continental shelf oil and gas leases is not an activity "directly affecting" the coastal zone within the meaning of the statute.

I

CZMA defines the "coastal zone" to include state but not federal land near the shorelines of the several coastal states, as well as coastal waters extending "seaward to the outer limit of the United States territorial sea." 16 U.S.C. § 1453(1). The territorial sea for states bordering on the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans extends three geographical miles seaward from the coastline. See 43 U.S.C. § 1301; United States v. California, 381 U.S. 139, 85 S.Ct. 1401, 14 L.Ed.2d 296 (1965). Submerged lands subject to the jurisdiction of the United

Page 316

States that lie beyond the territorial sea constitute the "outer continental shelf" (OCS). See 43 U.S.C. § 1331(a). By virtue of the Submerged Lands Act, passed in 1953, the coastal zone belongs to the states, while the OCS belongs to the federal government. 43 U.S.C. §§ 1302, 1311.

CZMA was enacted in 1972 to encourage the prudent management and conservation of natural resources in the coastal zone. Congress found that the "increasing and competing demands upon the lands and waters of our coastal zone" had "resulted in the loss of living marine resources, wildlife, nutrient-rich areas, permanent and adverse changes to ecological systems, decreasing open space for public use, and shoreline erosion." 16 U.S.C. § 1451(c). Accordingly, Congress declared a national policy to protect the coastal zone, to encourage the states to develop coastal zone management programs, to promote cooperation between federal and state agencies engaged in programs affecting the coastal zone, and to encourage broad participation in the development of coastal zone management programs. 16 U.S.C. § 1452.

Through a system of grants and other incentives, CZMA encourages each coastal state to develop a coastal management plan. Further grants and other benefits are made available to a coastal state after its management plan receives federal approval from the Secretary of Commerce. To obtain such approval a state plan must adequately consider the "national interest" and "the views of the Federal agencies principally affected by such program." 16 U.S.C. §§ 1455(c)(8), 1456(b).

Once a state plan has been approved, CZMA § 307(c)(1) requires federal activities "conducting or supporting activities directly affecting the coastal zone" to be "consistent" with the state plan "to the maximum extent practicable." 16 U.S.C. § 1456(c)(1). The Commerce Department has promulgated regulations implementing that provision. Those regulations require federal agencies to prepare a "con-

Page 317

sistency determination" document in support of any activity that will "directly affect" the coastal zone of a state with an approved management plan. The document must identify the "direct effects" of the activity and inform state agencies how the activity has been tailored to achieve consistency with the state program. 15 CFR § 930.34, .39 (1983).

II

OCS lease sales are conducted by the Department of the Interior (Interior). Oil and gas companies submit bids and the high bidders receive priority in the eventual exploration and development of oil and gas resources situated in the submerged lands on the OCS. A lessee does not, however, acquire an immediate or absolute right to explore for, develop, or produce oil or gas on the OCS; those activities require separate, subsequent federal authorization.

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134 practice notes
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    • United States
    • Federal Register August 26, 2002
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    ...of the Attorney General, that are binding on the Executive Branch, is well established. See e.g., Secretary of the Interior v. California, 464 U.S. 312, 320-21 n.6 (1984); Sea-Land Service, Inc. v. Department of Transportation, 137 F.3d 640, 643 (D.C. Cir. This rule makes clear that the Att......
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    ...of subsistence uses is not expected until the development and production stage, conflicts with Secretary of Interior v. California, 464 U.S. 312, 104 S.Ct. 656, 78 L.Ed.2d 496 (1984); and (4) whether the Ninth Circuit's decision applying ANILCA to the OCS should be given retroactive effect.......
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    ...43 U.S.C. § 1331, et seq., "to authorize federal leasing of the OCS for oil and gas development." Sec'y of the Interior v. California, 464 U.S. 312, 336 (1984). In 1978, the OCSLA was amended "to provide for the 'expeditious and orderly development, subject to environmental safeguards,' of ......
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    ...is not particularly relevant to understanding the meaning of the text as enacted in 1996. Cf. Sec'y of the Interior v. California, 464 U.S. 312, 375 n.36 (1984) (the "view of a subsequent Congress . . . is not without persuasive value"). The analysis is also informed to some degree by what ......
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125 cases
  • Amoco Production Company v. Village of Gambell, Alaska Hodel v. Village of Gambell, Nos. 85-1239 and 85-1406
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    ...of subsistence uses is not expected until the development and production stage, conflicts with Secretary of Interior v. California, 464 U.S. 312, 104 S.Ct. 656, 78 L.Ed.2d 496 (1984); and (4) whether the Ninth Circuit's decision applying ANILCA to the OCS should be given retroactive effect.......
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