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Edwardsen v. Department of the Interior

Citation: 32 ELR 20159
No. No. 99-71397, 268 F.3d 781/(9th Cir., 09/26/2001)

The court holds that the Mineral Management Service (MMS) did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in promulgating a development and production plan (DPP) under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) for an oil and gas development project located off the north coast of Alaska. The court first holds that the MMS complied with NEPA. The MMS' environmental impact statement (EIS) adequately examined both direct and indirect effects of the proposed DPP. Contrary to the petitioners' argument, OCSLA regulations promulgated by the MMS and relating to the EIS do not require a lessee to conduct a site-specific analysis of the trajectory of spilled oil in determining the environmental impacts. Additionally, in using data from a previous lease agreement instead of collecting new data for the specific site, the MMS made a reasoned judgment that the data was relevant and yielded a useful analysis of the extent to which spilled oil would spread under the least favorable conditions. Further, the EIS contains an adequate analysis of the cumulative impacts of the project on freshwater, gravel, air quality, vegetation, and subsistence hunting. The court next holds that it lacks jurisdiction to hear the petitioners' Oil Pollution Act (OPA) claims because the OCSLA regulations, the special review statute contained in the OPA, and the overall regulatory regime created by the OPA make it clear that jurisdiction lies in the district court for actions challenging the approval of a spill response plan.

Counsel for Petitioners
Jennifer B. App
Law Offices of Jennifer B. App
1026 W. 4th Ave., Anchorage AK 99501
(907) 276-4244

Counsel for Respondents
Mark R. Haag
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Schroeder, J. Before Nelson and Silverman, JJ.