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California v. Watt

Citation: 12 ELR 21084
No. Nos. 81-5699 et al., 683 F.2d 1253/17 ERC 1857/(9th Cir., 08/12/1982) Aff'd

The Ninth Circuit rules that § 307(c)(1) of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) requires the Secretary of the Interior to determine whether outer continental shelf (OCS) Lease Sale No. 53 is consistent with the California coastal zone management plan and that environmental groups have standing under § 10 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to bring claims under § 304(c). The court affirms the district court's holding, 11 ELR 20870, that the lease sale directly affects the California coastal zone. An expansive definition of "directly affecting" is consistent with (1) the purposes and legislative history of the CZMA, (2) the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's long-standing interpretation of the term, and (3) § 19 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).

However, the court modifies the district court's order to the extent that it requires the federal activity to be conducted in a manner consistent with the state coastal management program. The executive branch of the federal government, not the state, has final authority with regard to the consistency determination. Such determination requires only a finding that the lease sale is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the state management program. This interpretation is supported by the language and structure and legislative history of the CZMA and the OCLSA.

The court next stays that part of the district court's order mandating the cancellation of bids and return of deposits, ruling that the status quo should be maintained pending the Secretary's consistency determination. Furthermore, it vacates the district court's order to the extent that it applies to activities beyond the lease sale stage. The court affirms the district court's ruling that the Secretary's failure to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement reflecting revised estimates of oil and gas reserves di not violate the National Environmental Policy Act and it affirms the district court's ruling that the Secretary violated neither the substantive nor procedural requirements of § 19 of the OCSLA.

Finally, reversing the district court, the court holds that, notwithstanding the lack of an implied right of action under the CZMA, the environmental groups have standing under § 10 of the APA to bring CZMA claims. However, the court determines that a remand is not warranted since the environmental groups' arguments were raised by the state and local governments and, therefore, the denial of standing did not affect the outcome of the case.

[The pleadings in this case are summarized at ELR PEND. LIT. 65700 and 65727 — Ed.]

Counsel for California
George Deukmejian, Attorney General; N. Gregory Taylor, Ass't Attorney General; Theodora Berger, John A. Saureman
3580 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90010
(213) 736-2191

Counsel for Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
Trent Orr
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
25 Kearny St., San Francisco CA 94108
(415) 421-6561

Counsel for the Secretary of the Interior
Carol E. Dinkins, Ass't Attorney General; Peter R. Steenland Jr., Anne S. Almy
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 630-4427

Gary Fisher
Office of the Solicitor
Department of the Interior, Washington DC 20240
(202) 343-5757

Before SNEED, TANG and PREGERSON, Circuit Judges.