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Kerr-McGee Chem. Corp. v. Department of the Interior

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20269
Nos. No. CV 80-3696-FW, 18 ERC 1288/(C.D. Cal., 12/22/1981)

The court holds that the Department of the Interior violated §164(d) of the Clean Air Act in recommending that Death Valley National Monument be redesignated a Class I area without considering the non-air-quality impacts of the redesignation. First, the court rules that the Secretary of the Interior violated the clear congressional intent of §164, which requires a determination of whether a redesignation to Class I is "appropriate." A determination of the appropriateness of redesignation must include consideration of health, environmental, economic, social, and energy effects. The court also rules that the recommendation was arbitrary and capricious in violation of §706(2)(A) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because it failed to include any analysis of the present air quality of the area. However, the Secretary did not err in consulting with state but not local authorities in making the redesignation determination.

Next, the court holds that under §164 the agency is required to determine the environmental effects of the redesignation notwithstanding the Clean Air Act exemption from the National Environmental Policy Policy Act requirements contained in §7 of the Energy Supply and Environmental Coordination Act. The court bars the state of California from initiating redesignation proceedings absent a lawful §164 recommendation by the Department of the Interior. The court finds that since plaintiff has alleged that the state's imminent redesignation of Death Valley National Monument will delay state review of plaintiff's chemical facility permit, a present case or controversy exists between the parties. Finally, the court rules that the Secretary's recommendation is a final agency action under §704 of the APA and is, therefore, ripe for judicial review.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Peter J. Nickles
Covington & Burling
P.O. Box 7566, Washington DC 20044
(202) 662-6000

Counsel for Defendants
Andrea S. Ordin, U.S. Attorney
312 N. Spring St., Los Angeles CA 90012
(213) 688-2434

Edwin J. Dubiel; George Deukmejian, Attorney General
3580 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90010
(213) 736-2304