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COAST ALLIANCE v. BABBITT

March 5, 1998

COAST ALLIANCE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BRUCE BABBITT, SECRETARY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SULLIVAN

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

 I. Introduction

 The Coast Alliance, the Center for Marine Conservation, the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, Dr. Blair Witherington, Dr. Robert Stoll, Dr. Deborah Crouse, Dr. John K. Mahon, and Christine Perretta ("plaintiffs") challenge the actions of the Department of the Interior and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service with respect to boundary changes to the Coastal Barrier Resource System ("CBRS") and seek to declare the changes unlawful. Plaintiffs have also named the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a defendant because that agency provides federal flood insurance to lands that are not within the coverage of the CBRS.

 Pending before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. *fn1" The Court has considered the parties' motions, oppositions, replies, and counsels' representations at oral argument, as well as the applicable statutory and case law. For the following reasons, the Court concludes that the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment must be GRANTED and the defendants' and intervenors' motions for summary judgment must be DENIED.

 II. Background

 A. Parties

 Plaintiffs are environmental organizations and individuals with recreational and professional interests who oppose development of the approximately 36 acres of beaches and coastal areas that will now be excluded from CBRS protection as a result of changes mandated by § 220 of the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-333, 110 Stat. 4115. Plaintiffs claim that development of these areas will result in, among other things, destruction of endangered and threatened sea turtle nesting sites.

 Defendants are Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Department of the Interior ("DOI" or "the agency"), John Rogers, Acting Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("FWS"), and James Witt, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA"). *fn2"

 Intervenors are two landowners who seek to maintain the changes made to the CBRS by § 220. The landowners bought their properties allegedly unaware that they were covered by the CBRS. Intervenor Santa Lucea Associates owns 10.4 acres of the land at issue and Intevenor Paul Savage owns 7.5 acres. These landowners petitioned Congress and succeeded in removing their lands from the coverage of the CBRS, arguing that since the properties were already developed, they had mistakenly been included in the system. Since passage of § 220, which removed their lands from CBRS coverage, intervenors have invested additional resources in developing their properties.

 B. Events

 In 1982, Congress enacted the Coastal Barrier Resource Act (CBRA), 16 U.S.C. § 3501 et seq., to guarantee the protection of certain wildlife along U.S. coasts. The areas identified for protection are not eligible for federal flood insurance and consequently, little or no development is undertaken on these lands. See 16 U.S.C. § 3501(b) (stating that purposes of CBRS include minimizing loss of natural resources by "restricting future Federal expenditures and financial assistance which have the effect of encouraging development of coastal barriers").

 In § 220 of the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-333, Congress amended the CBRA to exclude approximately 36 acres of land previously protected under the CBRS. Under § 220, the Secretary of the Interior was to make changes to the existing CBRS boundaries "consistent with the depictions of areas appearing on the maps entitled 'Amendments to Coastal Barrier Resources System', dated November 1, 1995, and June 1, 1996, and on file with the Secretary." § 220(a) (emphasis added).

 Following enactment of § 220 on November 12, 1996, DOI discovered that it could not locate the maps referenced in § 220. *fn3" As a result, on December 4, 1996, Jane Lyder, Acting Legislative Counsel of DOI, wrote identical letters to Don Young, the Chairman of the House Committee on Resources, and to John H. Chafee, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, stating that DOI had not been able to make the changes because "the maps are not and never have been on file with the Secretary or any other official of the Department." Letter from Lyder to Young of 12/4/96 (Pls.' Ex. B). In response, Congressman Young wrote to Lyder the next day, December 5, 1996, and attached to his letter maps he described as "the same maps referenced in your December 4, 1996 letter." Letter from Young to Lyder of 12/5/96 (Pls.' Ex. C).

 Following receipt of the maps from Congressman Young, DOI and FWS staff met with congressional staff to decipher the text and notes written on the maps. In February 1997, as FWS staff transferred the information from the congressional maps to the revised maps that would be published, FWS staff found inaccuracies in the scale used in the congressional maps as well as inconsistencies between lines drawn on the maps and text written on the maps. Letter from Rogers to Young on 3/3/97 (Pls.' Ex. E). Moreover, FWS found there was no title on the map ("map # 8") depicting the area that § 220 refers to as Unit P32. Id.

 In subsequent meetings in March and April 1997, FWS staff met with congressional staff to resolve remaining issues with the maps. In a meeting on April 7, 1997, congressional staff provided another map # 8 to FWS staff. Defendants claim that although this newly furnished map # 8 had the proper title referred to in § 220, the map otherwise had identical mapping information.

 After a first attempt to publish notice of changes to the CBRS maps on April 29, 1997, which was withdrawn on April 30, 1997, due to a request for further meetings between DOI and congressional staff, DOI finally published notice of the completed map changes on May 28, 1997.

 II. Discussion

 Summary judgment should be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 only if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). In ruling upon a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986); Bayer v. United States Dep't of Treasury, 294 U.S. App. D.C. 44, 956 F.2d 330, 333 (D.C. Cir. 1992). Likewise, in ruling on cross-motions for summary judgment, the court shall grant summary judgment only if one of the moving parties is entitled to judgment as a matter of law upon material facts that are not ...


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