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Chevron Oil Co. v. Andrus

Citation: 9 ELR 20078
No. No. 77-2186, 588 F.2d 1383/(5th Cir., 02/09/1979)

Reversing the district court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals holds that Interior Department regulations governing the sale of oil and gas development leases on the outer continental shelf do not prevent the Secretary of the Interior from rejecting a high bid for lease even though the officer authorized to evaluate the bids recommended that the bid be accepted. An agency must abide by its own regulations, but the regulations in question here do not bind the Secretary to follow the authorized officer's determination. Where there is no interference with the officer's initial judgment, the Secretary is not precluded from reviewing that judgment. Although it is not necessary to the resolution of this litigation, the court goes on to decide that the Secretary's rejection of the high bid of a qualified bidder is subject to judicial review. Finding no persuasive indication that Congress intended to preclude review of the Secretary's acceptance or rejection of such bids, the court follows the general rule that administrative decisions are judicially reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act. Thus, on remand, appellees may seek reversal of the Secretary's decision under the "arbitrary and capricious" standard of review.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellees
M. Hampton Carver
Milling, Benson, Woodward, Hillyer & Pierson
1100 Whitney Bldg., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 581-3333

Counsel for Defendants-Appellants
Ford J. Dieth, Ass't U.S. Attorney
Hale Boggs Fed. Bldg., 500 Camp St., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 589-3545

Charles E. Biblowit
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2956

Before BROWN, Chief Judge, GEWIN and TJOFLAT, Circuit Judges.