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South Dakota v. Andrus

Citation: 9 ELR 20128
No. No. 77-5058, 462 F. Supp. 905/12 ERC 1764/(D.S.D., 12/26/1978)

The court dismisses a suit seeking to compel defendants to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) before issuing a mineral patent for 12 mining claims in the Black Hills National Forest. The court determines that the agency's decision not to prepare an EIS was not unreasonable because the Secretary of the Interior's action in processing a mineral patent application is non-discretionary and cannot be influenced by the information which an EIS would disclose. Furthermore, since the applicant can begin extracting minerals from a valid claim without obtaining a mineral patent, the issuance of such a patent is not a major federal action significantly affecting the human environment within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act. The court does express its view, however, that the existing laws need to be altered so that environmental concerns can play a role in the mineral patenting process.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Lawrence Kyte, Ass't Attorney General
State Capitol Bldg., Pierre SD 57501
(605) 224-3215

Counsel for Defendants
Robert D. Hiaring, U.S. Attorney
231 Federal Bldg., Sioux Falls SD 57102
(605) 336-2980

Horace Jackson
Lynn, Jackson, Schultz, Ireland & Lebrun
P.O. Box 1377, Rapid City SD 57701
(605) 342-2592