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Cabinet Mountains Wilderness v. Peterson

Citation: 12 ELR 21058
No. No. 81-1671, 685 F.2d 678/17 ERC 1844/(D.C. Cir., 08/13/1982) Aff'd

The D.C. Circuit affirms the district court ruling, 11 ELR 20812, that the Forest Service's approval of exploratory mineral drilling in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area, which supports populations of the threatened grizzly bear, did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court upholds appellees' decision not to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS). It rules that mitigation measures imposed on the project at the recommendation of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are adequate to avoid the need for an EIS because the remaining impact of the project is not significant. In addition, the court rejects as without merit, appellants' contentions that (1) appellees did not address the issue of cumulative impacts, (2) the effectiveness of the mitigation measures was not factually supported, and (3) mitigation measures were too vague to be enforced. The court also holds that since the ESA does not specify a standard of review, agency action is subject to the arbitrary and capricious standard provided by § 706 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). In addition, de novo review is not required by the ESA or the APA. Applying that standard, the court rules that appellees reasonably concluded that, in light of the mitigation measures and the FWS' compensation plan, the project would not jeopardize the continued existence of the grizzly bears.

[The appellate briefs are summarized at ELR PEND. LIT. 65726 and 65730 — Ed.]

Counsel for Appellants
Howard I. Fox, Karin P. Sheldon
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Inc.
1424 K St. NW, Washington DC 20005
(202) 347-1770

Ronald J. Wilson
810 18th St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 628-3160

Peter C. Wagstaff
501 Indiana Ave., Coeur D'Alene ID 83814
(208) 667-0661

Counsel for Appellees
Jerry L. Jackson, Edward J. Shawaker, Donald A. Carr
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 724-7377

R. Brooke Jackson, Susan L. Smith
Holland & Hart
1875 I St. NW, Suite 1200, Washington DC 20006
(202) 466-7340

Before: BORK, Circuit Judge, ROBB, Senior Circuit Judge, and JAMES F. GORDON,* United States District Judge for the Western District of Kentucky.