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Massachusetts v. Andrus

Citation: 8 ELR 20187
No. No. 78-184-G, 11 ERC 1138/(D. Mass., 01/28/1978)

In an oral opinion, the court grants plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction against defendants' acceptance of bids for the leasing of tracts of the outer continental shelf off the Massachusetts coast for oil and gas exploration and development. Balancing the potential harm to the Great Banks fishing area resulting from improper development of its petroleum resources against the costs to the government and intervenor developers caused by a brief postponement of the sale, the court finds that the Secretary's decision to proceed was arbitrary and capricious and violative of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and halts the impending sale. The principal NEPA violation arises from the Department of the Interior's failure to consider the costs and benefits associated with delaying the sale pending imminent congressional action on proposed amendments to the OCSLA which would substantially alter the existing rights and obligations of the developers and others in the region. For this reason and because of his reliance on a clearly inadequate EIS, the Secretary of the Interior was derelict in his responsibility as guardian of outer continental shelf fishing resources under the OCSLA. The asserted defense of laches is rejected, as is defendants' request for the posting of a bond.

Counsel for Plaintiffs State of Massachusetts
Eric Van Loon
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge St., Boston MA 02202
(617) 727-2808

Steven Leonard, Ass't Attorney General
100 Ashburton Pl., Boston MA 02108
(617) 727-2265

Counsel for Plaintiffs Conservation Law Foundation of New England
Douglas I. Foy
3 Joy St., Boston MA 02114
(617) 742-2540

Counsel for Defendants
Peter Steenland, Jr., John J. Zimmerman
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 727-2808

Counsel for Intervenors
E. Edward Bruce, Mark Nozette
Covington & Burling
888 16th St., Washington DC 20016
(202) 452-6126

John Berry St. John, Jr.
Liscow & Lewis
1 Shell Square, 50th Fl., New Orleans LA 70139
(504) 581-7979

G. Marshall Moriarty, John C. Kane, Jr.
Ropes & Gray
225 Franklin St., Boston MA 02110
(617) 423-6100