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Natural Resources Defense Council v. Andrus

Citation: 8 ELR 20577
No. No. 1983-73, 448 F. Supp. 802/11 ERC 1524/(D.D.C., 04/14/1978) Plaintiffs' proposed amended final judgment adopted

The court rejects the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) proposed deviation from compliance with the court's prior order, 5 ELR 20327, for preparing environmental impact statements (EISs) concerning livestock grazing on public lands in 11 western states. BLM sought to reduce by one-half the acreage to be covered by EISs by 1981, arguing that the previously established schedule was unworkable and unreasonable because existing resource data were insufficient and that additional time was needed to do the work. Furthermore, defendants argued that the agencies, not the courts or plaintiffs, are responsible for establishing the timing of EIS preparation. The court, however, finds that argument inapplicable in the context of a request to modify a final court order. Pointing out that defendants have failed to meet every deadline imposed in the prior order, the court also notes that BLM has delayed compliance unreasonably and, for that reason, the public lands are continuing to deteriorate. Therefore, it is necessary to act quickly to abate the continued deterioration of federal rangelands in the absence of convincing proof that additional time is needed to gather resource data. The court adopts plaintiffs' proposed amended final judgment, finding it a reasonable compromise which provides additional flexibility without completely shifting the bulk of EIS preparation to the end of the time schedule. Finally, the court declines to issue guidelines regarding the substantive content of the EISs to be prepared.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
John Roger Beers, Johnanna Wald
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
2345 Yale St., Palo Alto CA 94306
(415) 327-1080

Counsel for Defendants
William M. Cohen
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2775

Counsel for Defendants-Intervenors Pacific Legal Foundation et al.
W. Hugh O'Riordan, Donald C. Simpson, Albert Ferri
Pacific Legal Foundation, Inc.
1990 M St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 466-2686