State of Cal. By and Through Brown v. Watt, Nos. 80-1894

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtBefore MacKINNON and ROBB, Circuit Judges, and AUBREY E. ROBINSON, Jr.; PER CURIAM
Citation668 F.2d 1290
Parties, 215 U.S.App.D.C. 258, 12 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,001 STATE OF CALIFORNIA Acting By and Through Governor Edmund G. BROWN, Jr., The California Coastal Commission, The California Air Resources Board, The California Resources Agency, and The California Department of Conservation, Petitioners, v. James G. WATT, Secretary of the Interior and the United States Department of the Interior, Respondents, American Petroleum Institute, et al., Intervenors. STATE OF ALASKA, Petitioner, v. James G. WATT, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, United States Department of the Interior, Respondents, American Petroleum Institute, et al., Intervenors. NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC., Sierra Club, Conservation Law Foundation of New England, Inc., and Friends of the Earth, Petitioners, v. James G. WATT, Secretary of the Interior, and the United States Department of the Interior, Respondents, American Petroleum Institute, et al., Intervenors. NORTH SLOPE BOROUGH, Jacob Adams, Mayor of the North Slope Borough, and Lloyd Ahvakana, Petitioners, v. James G. WATT, Secretary of the Interior and the United States Department of the Interior, Respondents, American Petroleum Institute, et al., Intervenors.
Decision Date06 October 1981
Docket NumberNos. 80-1894,80-1897,80-1935 and 80-1991

Page 1290

668 F.2d 1290
16 ERC 1561, 215 U.S.App.D.C. 258, 12
Envtl. L. Rep. 20,001
STATE OF CALIFORNIA Acting By and Through Governor Edmund G.
BROWN, Jr., The California Coastal Commission, The
California Air Resources Board, The California Resources
Agency, and The California Department of Conservation, Petitioners,
v.
James G. WATT, Secretary of the Interior and the United
States Department of the Interior, Respondents,
American Petroleum Institute, et al., Intervenors.
STATE OF ALASKA, Petitioner,
v.
James G. WATT, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the
Interior, United States Department of the
Interior, Respondents,
American Petroleum Institute, et al., Intervenors.
NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC., Sierra Club,
Conservation Law Foundation of New England, Inc.,
and Friends of the Earth, Petitioners,
v.
James G. WATT, Secretary of the Interior, and the United
States Department of the Interior, Respondents,
American Petroleum Institute, et al., Intervenors.
NORTH SLOPE BOROUGH, Jacob Adams, Mayor of the North Slope
Borough, and Lloyd Ahvakana, Petitioners,
v.
James G. WATT, Secretary of the Interior and the United
States Department of the Interior, Respondents,
American Petroleum Institute, et al., Intervenors.
Nos. 80-1894, 80-1897, 80-1935 and 80-1991.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued March 4, 1981.
Decided Oct. 6, 1981.

Page 1294

Petitions for Review of Orders of The United States Department of the Interior.

Jonathan K. Tillinghast, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Juneau, Alaska, with whom Wilson Condon, Atty. Gen., State of Alaska, Juneau, Alaska, was on the brief, for petitioner in No. 80-1897.

Sarah Chasis, New York City, with whom Jane Bloom, New York City, was on the brief, for petitioners in No. 80-1935.

Theodora Berger, Deputy Atty. Gen., State of Cal., Los Angeles, Cal., with whom John A. Saurenman, Deputy Atty. Gen., State of Cal., Los Angeles, Cal., was on the brief, for petitioners in No. 80-1894.

Bruce J. Terris, Washington, D. C., with whom James M. Hecker and Edward H. Comer, Washington, D. C., were on the brief, for petitioners in No. 80-1991.

Margaret Strand, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., with whom Anthony C. Liotta, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen., Bruce C. Rashkow and William M. Cohen, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., were on the brief, for respondents.

E. Edward Bruce, Washington, D. C., with whom Constance J. Chatwood, Stark Ritchie and David T. Deal, Washington, D. C., were on the brief, for intervenors in Nos. 80-1894, 80-1897, 80-1935 and 80-1991.

Stephen M. Leonard, Asst. Atty. Gen., Com. of Mass., Boston, Mass., was on the brief, for amicus curiae urging remand to the Secretary for reconsideration in Nos. 80-1894, 80-1897, 80-1935 and 80-1991.

Before MacKINNON and ROBB, Circuit Judges, and AUBREY E. ROBINSON, Jr., District Judge for the District of Columbia. *

Opinion PER CURIAM.

PER CURIAM:

Petitioners have filed four consolidated petitions challenging the five year program for oil and gas leasing prepared by Secretary of Interior Andrus pursuant to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, as amended. The leasing program, developed under section 18 of the Act, serves as an outline for the leasing of drilling rights on the outer continental shelf (OCS) for the years 1980-1985 and consists of a schedule of proposed lease sales and related planning steps for those sales. Petitioners 1 claim that the Secretary prepared the leasing program in violation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, 2 the National Environmental Policy Act, 3 and a special trust responsibility allegedly owed to Alaskan natives. The

Page 1295

new Secretary of the Interior is now revising the leasing program, and petitioners seek a remand of the present program for revision in a manner consistent with statutory requirements. For the reasons stated below, we grant that request and remand the record for consideration of those parts of the leasing program that are not affirmed.

I. BACKGROUND

Congress enacted the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act 4 in 1953 to extend "(t)he Constitution and laws and civil and political jurisdiction of the United States ... to the subsoil and seabed of the Outer Continental Shelf." 5 The 1953 Act authorized the Secretary of Interior to grant leases by competitive bidding in order to explore and develop the oil and gas deposits of the shelf's submerged lands, 6 and empowered him to promulgate regulations to administer the provisions of the Act. 7 Congress has since described this "very general" 8 mandate as "essentially a carte blanche delegation of authority to the Secretary of Interior." 9

Exploitation of OCS resources under the 1953 Act proceeded at first at a relatively slow pace, with development activity concentrated off the coastal states bordering the Gulf of Mexico and in one small area off southern California in the Santa Barbara Channel. 10 During this period, OCS activities were localized in impact and received little national scrutiny. 11

Two major events, however, changed all that and moved OCS development into the forefront of the national consciousness. The first was the blowout of an OCS drilling project in the Santa Barbara Channel on January 28, 1969, resulting in the "largest oil spill in U.S. history", 12 and highlighting the environmental dangers associated with OCS exploitation. The second was the Arab oil embargo of 1973, which dramatically underscored the nation's dependence on foreign sources of oil. 13 In response to the latter, President Nixon directed on January 23, 1974, that 10 million acres of the OCS be leased in 1975. 14 This announcement was significant not only because it proposed leasing an amount of territory in one year almost equal to that which had been leased since the OCS program began in the early 1950's, 15 but also because it envisioned moving into previously undeveloped or "frontier" areas off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and off Alaska. 16

The announcement crystallized growing concern over the impact of OCS activities and the adequacy of the 1953 Act. 17 Although the need to develop national energy independence was clear, state and local governments feared damaging impacts to their coastlines from oil spills and the

Page 1296

onshore development which accompanies offshore drilling. 18 Commercial and recreational fishing interests expressed concern over the possible effects on their livelihoods and leisure activities, 19 while environmental and citizens groups raised questions about the effect of OCS activities on the ecology. 20 These interests accordingly sought a role in the offshore leasing policy decisions which had previously been committed to the virtually unlimited discretion of the Secretary. 21

These pressures led to the introduction of legislation in 1974 to overhaul the 1953 Act, and culminated four years later in the passage of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1978. 22 The 1978 Amendments 23 were intended to provide a comprehensive framework for the

expeditious and orderly development (of the OCS), subject to environmental safeguards, in a manner which is consistent with the maintenance of competition and other national needs. 24

In greater detail, the purposes of the 1978 Amendments are to: 25

(1) establish policies and procedures for managing the oil and natural gas resources of the Outer Continental Shelf which are intended to result in expedited exploration and development of the Outer Continental Shelf in order to achieve national economic and energy policy goals, assure national security, reduce dependence on foreign sources, and maintain a favorable balance of payments in world trade;

(2) preserve, protect, and develop oil and natural gas resources in the Outer Continental Shelf in a manner which is consistent with the need (A) to make such resources available to meet the Nation's energy needs as rapidly as possible, (B) to balance orderly energy resource development with protection of the human, marine, and coastal environments, (C) to insure the public a fair and equitable return on the resources of the Outer Continental Shelf, and (D) to preserve and maintain free enterprise competition;

(3) encourage development of new and improved technology for energy resource production which will eliminate or minimize risk of damage to the human, marine, and coastal environments;

(4) provide States, and through States, local governments, which are impacted by Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas exploration, development, and production with comprehensive assistance in order to anticipate and plan for such impact, and thereby to assure adequate protection of the human environment;

(5) assure that States, and through States, local governments, have timely access to information regarding activities on the Outer Continental Shelf, and opportunity to review and comment on decisions

Page 1297

relating to such activities, in order to anticipate, ameliorate, and plan for the impacts of such activities;

(6) assure that States, and through States, local governments, which are directly affected by exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas are provided an opportunity to participate in policy and planning decisions relating to management of the resources of the Outer Continental Shelf;

(7) minimize or eliminate conflicts between the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas, and the recovery of other resources such as fish and shellfish;

(8) establish an oilspill liability fund to pay for the prompt removal of any oil spilled or discharged as a result of activities on the Outer Continental Shelf and for any damages to public or private interests caused by such spills or discharges;

(9) insure that the extent of oil and natural gas resources of the Outer Continental Shelf is assessed at the earliest practicable time; and

(10) establish a...

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28 practice notes
  • Public Citizen, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of H.H.S., No. 01-5294.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 20, 2003
    ...we must, to the language of the statute, `the most important manifestation of Congressional intent.'" California ex rel. Brown v. Watt, 668 F.2d 1290, 1304 (D.C.Cir.1981). Section 1320c-3(a)(14) states that the PRO "shall inform the individual (or representative) of the organization's final......
  • Limerick Ecology Action, Inc. v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Com'n, Nos. 85-3431
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • April 25, 1989
    ...difficulty in measuring the risk does not automatically excuse the NRC from considering it. Cf. State of Cal. by Brown v. Watt, 668 F.2d 1290, 1311-13 (D.C.Cir.1981) Page 756 (where controlling statute required Secretary of the Interior to consider each specific factor on the basis of "exis......
  • Bd. of Cnty. Commissioners of Boulder Cnty. v. Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc., No. 19-1330
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • July 7, 2020
    ...a ‘structure for every conceivable step to be taken’ on the path to development of an OCS leasing site." (quoting California v. Watt , 668 F.2d 1290, 1297 (D.C. Cir. 1981) )). For example, the plans and documents required by DOI to drill under OCS leases, which ExxonMobil advances as eviden......
  • Baltimore Gas and Elec. Co. v. Heintz, Nos. 84-1308
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • May 2, 1985
    ...the policy embodied in the statute, then the agency's construction must be rejected in favor of one more reasonable. California v. Watt, 668 F.2d 1290, 1302-03 (D.C.Cir.1981) (per curiam); United Food & Commercial Workers Int'l Union Local No. 576 v. N.L.R.B., 675 F.2d 346, 351 In this inst......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • Public Citizen, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of H.H.S., No. 01-5294.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 20, 2003
    ...we must, to the language of the statute, `the most important manifestation of Congressional intent.'" California ex rel. Brown v. Watt, 668 F.2d 1290, 1304 (D.C.Cir.1981). Section 1320c-3(a)(14) states that the PRO "shall inform the individual (or representative) of the organization's final......
  • Limerick Ecology Action, Inc. v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Com'n, Nos. 85-3431
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • April 25, 1989
    ...difficulty in measuring the risk does not automatically excuse the NRC from considering it. Cf. State of Cal. by Brown v. Watt, 668 F.2d 1290, 1311-13 (D.C.Cir.1981) Page 756 (where controlling statute required Secretary of the Interior to consider each specific factor on the basis of "exis......
  • Bd. of Cnty. Commissioners of Boulder Cnty. v. Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc., No. 19-1330
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • July 7, 2020
    ...a ‘structure for every conceivable step to be taken’ on the path to development of an OCS leasing site." (quoting California v. Watt , 668 F.2d 1290, 1297 (D.C. Cir. 1981) )). For example, the plans and documents required by DOI to drill under OCS leases, which ExxonMobil advances as eviden......
  • Baltimore Gas and Elec. Co. v. Heintz, Nos. 84-1308
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • May 2, 1985
    ...the policy embodied in the statute, then the agency's construction must be rejected in favor of one more reasonable. California v. Watt, 668 F.2d 1290, 1302-03 (D.C.Cir.1981) (per curiam); United Food & Commercial Workers Int'l Union Local No. 576 v. N.L.R.B., 675 F.2d 346, 351 In this inst......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Modernizing Management of Offshore Oil and Gas in Federal Waters
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 49-5, May 2019
    • May 1, 2019
    ...environmental and predictive information for dif erent areas of the outer Continental Shelf. Id . §1344(a)(2). 136. California v. Watt, 668 F.2d 1290, 1317-18, 12 ELR 20001 (D.C. Cir. 1981) (i nding it “reasonable to conclude that within the section’s proper balance there is some notion of ......
  • Federal Lands and Fossil Fuels: Maximizing Social Welfare in Federal Energy Leasing
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 49-8, August 2019
    • August 1, 2019
    ...Oil and Gas Resources: Prospects and Processes 19 (Apr. 26, 2010), https:// perma.cc/JT7N-CMZB. 50. California v. Watt ( Watt I ) , 668 F.2d 1290, 1317-18, 12 ELR 20001 (D.C. Cir. 1981). Copyright © 2019 Environmental Law Institute®, Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission from ELR®, http......
  • The BP Macondo Well Exploration Plan: Wither the Coastal Zone Management Act?
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 40-11, November 2010
    • November 1, 2010
    ...Mass.), af’d , Massachusetts v. Watt, 716 F.2d 946, 13 ELR 20893 (1st Cir. 1983). For challenges to early plans, see California v. Watt , 668 F.2d 1290, 12 ELR 20001 (D.C. Cir. 1981); California v. Watt , 712 F.2d 584, 13 ELR 20723 (D.C. Cir. 1983); Natural Res. Def. Council v. Hodel , 865 ......

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