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COMMUNITIES FOR A GREAT NORTHWEST, LTD. v. CLINTON

August 23, 2000

COMMUNITIES FOR A GREAT NORTHWEST LTD., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
V.
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Huvelle, District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff's Communities for a Great Northwest (CGNW), Oregon Cattlemen's Association (OCA), Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF), and Washington Cattlemen's Association (WCA) ask the Court to declare unlawful the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project (ICBEMP), a plan developed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to manage federal lands in the Interior Columbia River Basin using an ecosystem-based management strategy, on the grounds that the project violates the Property Clause of the Constitution,*fn1 the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),*fn2 the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA),*fn3 the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act (MUSYA),*fn4 the National Forest Management Act (NFMA),*fn5 the Organic Administration Act (OAA),*fn6 and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA).*fn7 Plaintiffs seek to enjoin the completion of a final environmental impact statement (EIS) and Record of Decision for the ICBEMP. Defendants President Clinton, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the heads of those agencies move to dismiss the case for lack of standing, or in the alternative, lack of jurisdiction.

BACKGROUND

In 1993, in response to a directive from President Clinton, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management began work on the ICBEMP, the goal of which is to develop an ecosystem-based management strategy for approximately 75 million acres of federal lands in the Columbia River Basin.*fn8 The agencies designated two teams to develop environmental impact statements for the region, one to consider management of National Forest System lands east of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington (Eastside), and the other to address management of rangelands in the Upper Columbia River Basin (Upper Columbia River Basin).

In response to comments received during the public comment period, the agencies published a Supplemental Draft EIS in March 2000. The Supplemental Draft EIS supplements the Eastside and Upper Columbia River Basin Draft EISs published in 1997, but it is intended as a stand-alone document. The Supplemental Draft EIS outlines three management alternatives, with "S2" identified as the preferred alternative. The supplement excludes approximately twelve million acres of agency-administered land from ICBEMP coverage that were included in the earlier Draft EISs. Both parties agree, however, that the publication of the supplement does not change the posture of this case. The public comment period on the Supplemental Draft EIS ended on July 6, 2000. To date, no final EIS or Record of Decision has been released.

Plaintiffs filed suit on August 21, 1998, alleging that defendants violated constitutional and statutory land management provisions by engaging in the ICBEMP planning process. Plaintiffs contend that President Clinton "usurp[ed] Congressional legislative authority" by directing the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to develop a new plan for forest management in the Pacific Northwest and thereby violated the Property Clause of the Constitution, which delegates to Congress the power to regulate and dispose of federal property. Plaintiffs further allege that defendants violated the RFA by failing to prepare an adequate initial regulatory flexibility analysis describing the impact of the proposed rule on small businesses, non-profit enterprises, local governments, and other entities. Plaintiffs also claim violations of the FLPMA, the MUSYA, the NFMA, and the OAA for proposing to replace a multiple-use approach to land management with an ecosystem-based management strategy. Finally, plaintiffs contend that the ICBEMP qualifies as a "rule" promulgated by defendants in violation of the SBREFA, which provides that agencies must submit the rules that they promulgate for congressional review before those rules can take effect.

Defendants have filed a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss on the grounds that plaintiffs have not stated the requisite elements to establish constitutional standing, or alternatively, that plaintiffs have cited no basis for this Court to exercise jurisdiction, since the federal land management statutes do not include provisions for judicial review, and review under the APA and the RFA is precluded because the ICBEMP is not a "final agency action." In response to the motion to dismiss, plaintiffs have supplemented the record with a declaration and other materials to support their claim of standing. The Court has relied on the pleadings as well as the additional materials filed by the plaintiffs in reaching its decision. See Haase v. Sessions, 835 F.2d 902, 906 (D.C.Cir. 1987) (describing the proper procedure on a 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of standing: "In 12(b)(1) proceedings, it has been long accepted that the judiciary may make `appropriate inquiry' beyond the pleadings to `satisfy itself on authority to entertain the case.'") (citations omitted).

ANALYSIS

I. Standing

Plaintiffs must establish both constitutional and prudential standing in order to seek federal judicial review. See Mountain States Legal Foundation v. Glickman, 92 F.3d 1228, 1232 (D.C.Cir. 1996). Article III constitutional standing limits judicial intervention to genuine disputes between adverse parties which are "`in a form . . . capable of judicial resolution,'" Florida Audubon Society v. Bentsen, 94 F.3d 658, 663 (D.C.Cir. 1996) (quoting Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 101, 88 S.Ct. 1942, 20 L.Ed.2d 947 (1968)), and therefore, it "`is an essential and unchanging' predicate to any exercise of [federal] jurisdiction." Id. (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992)).*fn9 Standing must be proven with respect to each claim. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. at 500, 95 S.Ct. 2197 ("Although standing in no way depends on the merits of the plaintiff's contention that particular conduct is illegal, . . . it often turns on the nature and source of the claim asserted."). However, if one plaintiff can satisfy the standing requirements, a court need not consider the standing of other plaintiffs to hear the claim. See Mountain States, 92 F.3d at 1232. In this case, the Court finds that none of the plaintiffs has established constitutional standing with respect to any claim, and thus it is unnecessary to address prudential standing. See id. ("[W]e first examine whether plaintiff's allege injuries adequate for constitutional standing, and then inquire whether at least one of those injuries can be tied to interests protected by each statute at issue.").

To meet the constitutional requirements for standing, a plaintiff bears the burden of showing the following: (1) he has suffered an injury which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) there is a causal connection between the alleged injury and conduct that is fairly traceable to the defendant; and (3) it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. at 560-61, 112 S.Ct. 2130. Because the elements of standing are "not mere pleading requirements, but rather an indispensable part of the plaintiff's case, each element must be supported in the same way as any other matter on which the plaintiff bears the burden of proof, i.e., with the manner and degree of evidence required at the successive stages of the litigation." Id. at 561, 112 S.Ct. 2130. The trial court may allow plaintiffs the opportunity to supply by affidavits further particularized allegations of fact in support of standing, but "[i]f, after this opportunity, plaintiffs' standing does not adequately appear from all materials of record, the complaint must be dismissed." Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. at 501-02, 95 S.Ct. 2197.

In this case, the complaint fails to allege any of the three elements required to establish standing. The complaint describes plaintiffs generally as membership organizations representing constituencies in the Pacific Northwest, see Amended Complaint at ¶¶ 9-12; it describes the ICBEMP, and in five claims for relief, it alleges various constitutional and statutory violations. Id. at ¶¶ 31-61. The complaint is silent as to injury in fact, causation, and redressability. Instead, plaintiffs cite Mountain States Legal Foundation v. Glickman for the general proposition that "CGNW is an organization with standing to sue on issues related to forest management statutes." Amended Complaint at ¶ 9. Obviously, plaintiffs must do more than invoke an unrelated case in which a court found that one of them had standing to sue. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. at 499, 95 S.Ct. 2197 ("A federal court's jurisdiction therefore can be invoked only when the plaintiff himself has suffered `some threatened or actual injury resulting from the putatively illegal action.'") (quoting Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 617, 93 S.Ct. 1146, 35 L.Ed.2d 536 (1973)). Thus, in support of their standing argument, plaintiffs have filed the declaration of Bruce Vincent, a logger from Libby, Montana, who lives in the Kootenai National ...


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