Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SIERRA CLUB v. MORTON

February 14, 1974

SIERRA CLUB et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Rogers C. B. MORTON et al., Defendants, and Peabody Coal Co. et al., Intervenor Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In this suit several environmental and public interest organizations sue the Secretaries of the Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Army and other Federal government officials claiming that they have violated the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq. (NEPA). Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and mandamus and allege that the defendants in violation of NEPA mandates have permitted and authorized development of coal reserves in the Northern Great Plains region without first preparing a comprehensive environmental impact statement, systematic interdisciplinary studies of coal-development and a study of appropriate alternative courses of action. Several coal mining companies, electric power and utility companies and the Crow Tribe of Indians were allowed to intervene.

 The matter came on for hearing upon plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, the cross motions for summary judgment of the Federal defendants and of the intervening defendants, the motion for judgment on the pleadings of the intervening defendants, and the motions for partial summary judgment of intervening defendants Atlantic Richfield Company, Kerr-McGee Corporation, and Westmoreland Resources. Upon consideration of these motions, the affidavits, exhibits, answers to interrogatories and memoranda filed by the parties, and the oral arguments of counsel, the Court hereby enters the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiffs are the Sierra Club, a nonprofit California corporation; the National Wildlife Federation, a nonprofit District of Columbia corporation; the Northern Plains Resource Council, a nonprofit unincorporated organization with members in Montana; the Montana League of Conservation Voters, an unincorporated organization with members in Montana; and the League of Women Voters of South Dakota, an unincorporated organization with principal offices in Rapid City, South Dakota. Many members of plaintiff organizations live, work, engage in recreational activities, own land and hold surface rights on or immediately adjacent to the sites of coal mining and related activities in the four-state area, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota. These plaintiffs sue as organizations and on behalf of their members.

 3. The following parties were allowed to intervene as defendants: Atlantic Richfield Company; Cities Service Gas Company; Westmoreland Resources; Peabody Coal Company; Kerr-McGee Corporation; American Electric Power System; Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Company; Arkansas Power & Light Company; Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company; Northern Natural Gas Company; Wisconsin Power & Light Company; Patrick J. McDonough; The Crow Tribe of Indians; Montana Power Company; Puget Sound Power & Light Company; Portland General Electric Company; and the Washington Water Power Company.

 4. By this suit plaintiffs seek a declaration that NEPA requires

 
the preparation and consideration of a comprehensive environmental impact statement concerning coal development in the Northern Great Plains region before issuing coal prospecting permits or mining leases, entering into options or contracts for the sale of water or taking any other actions concerning coal development in the Northern Great Plains region . . .;

 and that NEPA also requires

 
the carrying out of systematic interdisciplinary studies of the coal development in the Northern Great Plains region and the study of appropriate alternatives to this development.

 5. Plaintiffs also seek an injunction against any actions by the Federal Government affecting coal development in the Northern Great Plains region pending the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement for that region and related studies under NEPA Sections 102(2)(A), (C), and (D).

 6. The complaint asserts that the "Northern Great Plains region involved in this lawsuit includes northeastern Wyoming, eastern Montana, western North Dakota, and western South Dakota."

 7. The "Northern Great Plains region" as described by the plaintiffs is not an entity, region, or area which has been defined by the Federal Government by statute or executive action for purposes of any Federal program, project, or action.

 8. There is no existing or proposed Federal regional program, plan, project, or other regional "federal action" within the meaning of NEPA Section 102(2) for the development of coal or other resources in the area defined by the plaintiffs as the "Northern Great Plains region."

 9. Pursuant to the authority of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, 41 Stat. 437, 30 U.S.C. § 181 et seq. as amended, the Department of the Interior, beginning in 1920 issued coal mining leases on Federal lands in Montana covering 33,000 acres. Of those leases, five are presently producing, including the lease issued in 1923.

 Beginning in 1922, that Department commenced issuing coal leases covering 16,000 acres of land in North Dakota. Six of those leases, including the lease issued in 1922, are still producing.

 Commencing in 1922, the Department of the Interior has issued coal leases covering 118,000 acres of Federal lands in northern Wyoming. Of those leases, only four are presently producing, including the lease issued in 1922.

 10. Coal prospecting permits have also been issued for several thousand acres of Federal owned lands in Montana and Wyoming and in addition, several thousand acres of land in the Crow, Cheyenne, Ft. Berthold, and Wind River Indian Reservations have been leased by the Tribes with the approval of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

 11. At the present time, coal is being produced from only four leases in Montana, six leases in North Dakota, and four leases in northern Wyoming. All producing coal mines are operating under approved mining plans and under state-approved reclamation plans.

 12. On May 26, 1970, the Department of the Interior initiated the North Central Power Study. The purpose of that study was to investigate the potential for coordinated development of electric power supply in the north central United States. The Department of the Interior was aware that private companies have had plans or are developing plans for utilization of coal in the Northern Great Plains and many such development plans involve state or privately owned lands not lands of the United States.

 13. The Phase I report of that Study, which was a broad reconnaissance type study, was issued in October 1971 and utilities were given until July 1, 1972, to comment on the report. The responses received did not indicate that a plan for the coordinated development ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.