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Wilderness Soc'y, Inc. v. Rey

Citation: 40 ELR 20254
No. No. 06-35565, (9th Cir., 09/22/2010)

The Ninth Circuit dismissed environmental groups' claims against the U.S. Forest Service challenging revisions it made to regulations implementing the Forest Service Decisionmaking and Appeals Reform Act (ARA). The revisions limit the scope and availability of notice, comment, and appeals procedures for land and resource management plans. The lower court granted the groups declaratory and injunctive relief. But in light of intervening U.S. Supreme Court case law, the claims are nonjusticiable. In Summers v. Earth Island Institute, 129 S. Ct. 1142 (2009), the Court held that the deprivation of procedural rights, alone, is insufficient to create Article III standing. A concrete and particular project must be connected to the procedural loss. Although one of the groups' members alleged recreational and aesthetic injuries, the lack of any linkage between the project and the claimed injuries undermines the effort to establish standing. The court also rejected the groups' claims that they had standing for informational injuries. The ARA grants the public a right to process and to participation. Even though these rights necessarily involve the dissemination of information, they are not thereby tantamount to a right to information per se.