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Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Inc. v. Watson

Citation: 12 ELR 20658
No. No. J81-12, 535 F. Supp. 653/17 ERC 1295/(D. Alaska, 04/02/1982) Injunction issued

The district court rules that the U.S. Forest Service was required to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) prior to approving amendments to U.S. Borax's plan of operations for mining activities within the Misty Fjords National Monument. The Forest Service, pursuant to the court's prior rulings in the case, 12 ELR 20187 and 20188, concluded that the 1980-1983 amendments to the plan do not encompass bulk sampling and that, therefore, no EIS was necessary. The court reverses the Forest Service's decision, ruling that it was contrary to its earlier decision and not based on consideration of the factors that the court considered relevant to a determination of bulk sampling. Next, the court rules that it, not the Forest Service, must determine whether the amendments involve bulk sampling since a second remand would frustrate the mandate of § 503(h)(5) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which provides for expedited judicial review of any challenge to administrative action under § 503. The court determines that the 1980-1983 amendments require the identical amount and type of on-site activities as those proposed in the 1976 and 1979 bulk sampling plans. Therefore, the court holds that the 1980-1983 amendments constitute bulk sampling and enjoins the Forest Service from proceedings with mining activities pending preparation of an EIS.

Counsel are listed at 12 ELR 20187.