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Ventura County v. Gulf Oil Corp.

Citation: 9 ELR 20653
No. Nos. 77-2319, -2716, 601 F.2d 1080/(9th Cir., 08/03/1979)

Affirming the district court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the holder of a federal lease and oil drilling permits in a national forest need not obtain a permit pursuant to a county's zoning ordinances in order to exercise its leaseholder rights. Relying on Kleppe v. New Mexico, 6 ELR 20545 (U.S. 1976), the court notes that congressional enactments under the Property Clause of the Constitution possess broad preemptive powers. The court then holds that where, as here, the federal government has authorized a specific use of federal lands, the county may not interfere with that use, either temporarily or permanently, in an attempt to substitute its judgment for that of Congress. Savings provisions in the Mineral Leasing Act do not avail the county because they neither recognize concurrent state jurisdiction nor give states and their subdivisions the right to apply local regulations which directly conflict with achievement of a congressionally approved use of federal lands. If federal officials fail to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act for federal-local cooperation concerning the environmental impact of federal action under the Mineral Leasing Act, the county has a remedy against those officials for violation of the former statute.

Counsel for Appellant
R. Thomas Harris, Ass't County Counsel
501 Poli St., Ventura CA 93001
(805) 654-2580

Counsel for Appellee
James L. O'Loughlin
Gulf Oil Corp.
1801 Ave. of the Stars, Suite 1403, Los Angeles CA 90054
(213) 553-3800

Counsel for Amicus Curiae State of California
Sylvia O. Cano
Office of the Attorney General
Tishman Bldg., 3580 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90010
(213) 736-2161

Counsel for Amicus Curiae United States
Neil T. Proto
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2776

Before HUFSTEDLER and WRIGHT, Circuit Judges, and CALLISTER,* District Judge.