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California v. Morton

Citation: 6 ELR 20088
No. No. CV 74-2374-DWW, 404 F. Supp. 26/(C.D. Cal., 11/17/1975) summary judgment granted to plaintiff

The court dismisses a suit seeking to enjoin the leasing of seabed areas off the coast of southern California for oil exploration and drilling. The Department of Interior satisfied the requirements of NEPA by filing two environmental impact statements, one on the nationwide accelerated offshore leasing program and the other a site-specific study of the southern California area, following public hearings and before actually deciding whether to proceed with the lease sale.In view of the recent Supreme Court ruling in SCRAP II, plaintiffs are mistaken in asserting that the statute requires a separate EIS before each step toward leasing, such as recommending lease acceleration to the President, inviting nominations identifying particular areas off southern California for possible exploration, and requesting appropriations from Congress to finance a leasing program. Plaintiffs also err in contending that the EIS assessing the accelerated leasing program is inadequate because it fails to consider the regional distribution of costs and benefits, thereby allowing the region to bear the environmental costs while others reap the energy benefits. Such an argument conflicts with the integrated socio-economic pattern upon which this nation is based, and in any event, an EIS need not contain a formal, mathematically expressed cost-benefit analysis to serve its intended function under NEPA.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Evelle J. Younger Attorney General
Robert H. O'Brien
Carl Boronkay Asst. Attorneys General
Nicholas C. Yost
Norman N. Flette
John P. Meck Deputy Attorneys General
800 Tishman Building
3580 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, Cal. 90010
(213) 620-4913

Counsel for Defendants
William Cohen
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 739-2775