The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY
Charles R. Richey, District Judge.
This case is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. There is no dispute as to any material or relevant fact. For the reasons hereinafter stated, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is denied and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.
This action arises out of a complaint for judicial review of a decision of the Secretary of the Interior not to award Plaintiff certain oil and gas leases in the State of Louisiana under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (41 Stat. 437, as amended; 30 U.S.C. Sec. 181 et seq.). Jurisdiction is based on 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1331(a) (Federal question; amount in controversy in excess of $10,000); and 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2201-2202 (Declaratory Judgments Act).
On February 26, 1968, Plaintiff filed noncompetitive oil and gas lease offer ES 3624 in the Eastern States Land Office, Bureau of Land Management, pursuant to Section 17 of the Mineral Leasing Act, as amended, 30 U.S.C. § 226. The offer described, by metes and bounds, lands represented to constitute that portion of section 17, Township 23 South, Range 33 East, Louisiana Meridian, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, not overlapped or invaded by section 18 and land added thereto by accretion or dereliction.
On May 17, 1968, Plaintiff filed lease offer ES 4167, which also described by metes and bounds lands represented to comprise the portion of section 17 not overlapped by section 18 and land accruing by accretion or dereliction. The offer differed from Plaintiff's earlier offer in its description of the accreted land. Thereafter, on August 13, 1968, Plaintiff filed lease offer ES 4498, again purporting to describe the part of section 17 not overlapped by section 18, plus land accruing by accretion or dereliction, and providing yet a different description of the accreted area. On August 14, 1968, Plaintiff filed a fourth lease offer, ES 4501, for the same land, once more, altering the description of the accreted land.
On January 24, 1969, Texaco, Inc., filed lease offers ES 5377, 5378, 5379, and 5380. Each of the offers described by metes and bounds the portion of section 17 not overlapped by section 18, and each described by metes and bounds a parcel of land accruing to section 17 by accretion or dereliction.
On September 24, 1969, the Eastern States Land Office issued a decision setting forth the status of each of the nine lease offers just described, noting that each of the lease offers embraced substantially the same surveyed land and land accreted thereto.
Based on this report the land office found that:
1. Plaintiff's lease offer ES 3624 adequately described the portion of section 17 not overlapped or invaded by section 18, and a lease may be issued pursuant thereto for that land, but the offer must be rejected as to the accreted land for failure to describe the accreted area adequately;
2. Plaintiff's lease offer ES 4167 adequately described the accreted area, and a lease may be issued pursuant to the offer for that land, but, in the event a lease is issued pursuant to offer ES 3624, offer ES 4167 must be rejected as to the land covered by the lease;
3. Chevron's lease offer ES 3673, as well as Plaintiff's offers ES 4498 and 4501, did not adequately describe the accreted land and in the event of issuance of a lease pursuant to lease offer ES 3642, must be rejected in their entirety; and
4. Texaco's lease offers ES 5377, 5378, 5379, and 5380 contain adequate descriptions but, in the event leases are issued pursuant to lease offers ES 3624 and 4167, must be rejected.
The decision allowed Plaintiff 30 days within which to execute and return stipulations accepting terms imposed by the Corps of Engineers, Department of the Army, as a condition to consenting to the issuance of leases, and it allowed each offeror, within 30 days after receipt of the decision, to appeal to the Director, Bureau of Land Management, from the decision. Plaintiff filed the required stipulations in the land office on October 15, 1969.
Neither Plaintiff nor Chevron appealed from the land office decision. Texaco, however, filed a notice of appeal to the Director on October 24, 1969.
On December 16, 1969, Texaco filed with the Director, Bureau of Land Management, a statement of reasons for its appeal, alleging therein facts tending to demonstrate that section 17, Township 23 South, Range 33 East, and the accretions thereto, are within the known geologic structure of a producing oil field. On January 29, 1970, the Regional Geologist, Geological Survey, Tulsa, Oklahoma, acting on behalf of the Director, Geological Survey, advised the manager of the Eastern States Land Office that section 17 and the accretions thereto were determined, as of November 9, 1969, to be within the undefined known geologic structure of the Southeast Pass field.
In a decision dated March 19, 1970, the Office of Appeals and Hearings, Bureau of Land Management, acting for the Director, Bureau of Land Management, vacated the land office decision of September 24, 1969, and rejected all nine lease offers for the reason that the lands applied for are within the known geologic structure of a producing oil field and are, therefore, not subject to noncompetitive leasing and for the additional reasons that each of the lease offers failed to describe all of the accreted land available for leasing.
Plaintiff appealed to the Secretary of the Interior from the Bureau's decision, charging that the Office of Appeals and ...