Plaintiffs' contention that the MLA and Interstate Commerce Act provisions must be read into the FLPMA is likewise unsupported by statutory language. Nothing in the language of the FLPMA, which involves fee land exchanges only, incorporates, by reference or otherwise, the restrictions placed by these other statutes on the leasing, mining, or transportation of coal by common carriers. Conversely, nothing in the language of the MLA or the Interstate Commerce Act directs that the restrictions contained in these statutes shall also apply to fee land and coal exchanges under the FLPMA. Indeed, the MLA explicitly exempts FLPMA section 206 exchanges from the restrictions on disposition contained in the MLA. Section 37 of the MLA provides in relevant part that "The deposits of coal . . . herein referred to, in lands valuable for such minerals, . . . shall be subject to disposition only in the form and manner provided in this chapter, except as provided in sections 1716 and 1719 of Title 43. . ." 30 U.S.C. § 193 (emphasis added).
Plaintiffs attempt to explain away the absence of a textual linkage between the three statutes on the basis that the laws are linked by logic, and they further contend that failure to read the MLA and Interstate Commerce Act restrictions into the FLPMA effectively would create a vast loophole which would permit the wholesale evasion of the MLA's restriction on coal leasing by railroad affiliates through the use of the FLPMA fee exchange provision. Noting that implied repealers of legislation are disfavored (see Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 57 L. Ed. 2d 117, 98 S. Ct. 2279 (1978)), and that the FLPMA itself specifically states that "Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to repeal any existing law by implication," FLPMA § 701(f), 43 U.S.C. § 1701(f), plaintiffs assert that Congress could not have intended such an anomalous result, and that harmonious construction of the three statutes requires the reading of the MLA restrictions into the FLPMA.
The critical flaw in plaintiffs' argument is that it ignores the significant limitations placed on the Secretary's discretion by the express terms of the FLPMA. Section 206 of that statute requires the Secretary to conduct a detailed public interest analysis prior to approving each proposed fee exchange.
It does not give him carte blanche to approve wholesale transfers of federal or other coal lands to railroad affiliates. The Court is confident that the restrictions imposed by the public interest requirement are more than adequate to prevent the use of the FLPMA as a means of evading the coal-leasing prohibitions contained in the MLA.
While, to be sure, some tension exists between these various congressional enactments, the Court is unprepared to conclude that harmonious construction of these statutes requires the substantial alteration by implication of the FLPMA's explicit statutory language. Accordingly, the Court holds that the MLA's ban on coal-leasing by common-carrier railroad affiliates is not incorporated in the FLPMA and does not extend to FLPMA fee exchanges.
Plaintiffs' final objection to the Corral Canyon land exchange is that, on the merits, the exchange is not in the public interest as required by the FLPMA. When viewed through a practical prism, nothing could be more in the public interest: Princeton and its sister institutions receive capital for their educational or health-providing ventures; parkland in the Grand Teton will remain unspoiled; and a private energy company receives land outside the national parks for commercial mining. However, plaintiffs assert that the Court should regard as paramount the potential anticompetitive effects of the proposed exchange, and that the Secretary failed properly to perform such an evaluation or to weigh its results in making his final public interest determination. Accordingly, they urge the Court to hold that the Secretary abused his discretion in approving the Corral Canyon exchange under the FLPMA.
The defendants have noted, correctly, that the FLPMA public interest provision does not include potential anticompetitive effects among the panoply of factors that the Secretary of the Interior must take into account in reading his public interest determination. The statute provides only:
That when considering public interest the Secretary concerned shall give full consideration to better Federal land management and the needs of State and local people, including needs for lands for the economy, community expansion, recreation areas, food, fiber, minerals, and fish and wildlife and the Secretary concerned finds that the values and the objectives which Federal lands or interests to be conveyed may serve if retained in Federal ownership are not more than the value of the non-Federal lands or interests and the public objectives they could serve if acquired.
43 U.S.C. § 1716(a). There is no mention at all of a requirement that the Secretary of Interior take into account in his public interest determination the antitrust implications of a proposed exchange. It can therefore be argued, as the Secretary did during the administrative proceedings below, that under the familiar principle of expressio unius est exclusio alterius Congress' failure to include potential anticompetitive effects among the enumerated categories of factors to be considered by the Secretary suggests that the FLPMA should be construed not to require such an analysis.
The Court need not reach that issue, however, for whatever may be the proper resolution of this important question of statutory construction, it is appropriately left to another day. It is clear that here the Secretary did, in fact, proceed to consider the potential anticompetitive effect of the Corral Canyon exchange, and he properly found that it was not significant enough to preclude a determination that the exchange was in the public interest. Officials of the Bureau of Land Management's Wyoming office noted that the federal coal reserves disposed of through the Corral Canyon exchange "represent  less than 3% of the federal coal disposed of through lease in Wyoming alone in [Fiscal Year] 1982." BLM Decision of June 2, 1983 (Rocky Mountain Ex. B-13) at 4.
They also noted that FLPMA exchanges were, and are,
considered case-by-case, on an ad hoc basis, and that the Corral Canyon exchange did not "represent a change in departmental policy for exchange rather than lease sale as the preferred method for disposing of federal coal nor does it set a precedent for such disposition." Id. As the BLM officials' response makes clear, the Corral Canyon exchange could have had only de minimus effects on competition within the coal industry, and any other potential effects were at best speculative.
Accordingly, the Court finds that, assuming the Secretary was required under the FLPMA to consider the potential anticompetitive effects of the Corral Canyon exchange, his evaluation was adequate and his decision was not an abuse of discretion under the statute.
To sum up, the FLPMA grants the Secretary of the Interior broad authority to approve proposed federal land exchanges that are consistent with statutory requirements and which are in the public interest as defined by FLPMA section 206. The Secretary properly evaluated the proposed Corral Canyon exchange under these standards, and his determination that the exchange satisfied these statutory prerequisites is abundantly supported by substantial record evidence. Nothing in any of the statutes cited by plaintiffs precludes the Secretary from approving the Corral Canyon exchange. In short, it is clear that the Secretary's decision was neither arbitrary and capricious nor contrary to law, and that it therefore must be affirmed.
For the reasons stated in an Opinion issued this date, it is this 27th day of August, 1985
ORDERED that plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment be and it hereby is denied; and it is further
ORDERED that defendants' motion for summary judgment be and it hereby is granted; and it is further
ORDERED that this case be and it is hereby dismissed.