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North Slope Borough v. Andrus

Citation: 11 ELR 20293
No. No. 79-3193, 507 F. Supp. 106/15 ERC 1793/(D.D.C., 02/03/1981) Attorneys fees awarded

The court awards attorney fees to plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the sale of oil and gas leases under the Endangered Species Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) in the Beaufort Sea. Following the conclusion of the litigation on the merits, 10 ELR 20054, 20115, and 20823, the parties stipulated to a specific award of fees. Subsequently, however, the Department of the Interior filed a motion to withdraw the stipulation. The court rules that despite the withdrawal of the stipulation, an award of fees in the stipulated amounts is justified. The plaintiffs ultimately did not prevail in the suit is not dispositive. More important is whether the suit is of the type that Congress intended to encourage with the statutory citizen suit provisions. Although the OCSLA was intended to promote the development of petroleum resources, it was also intended to provide for protection of the environment. Since (1) the suit was brought for this purpose, (2) it raised important and unresolved questions of law, (3) plaintiffs' counsel acted in a highly professional and competent manner, and (4) the requested amounts are modest in light of the prevailing rates for comparable legal services, the request is granted.

Counsel for Plaintiff North Slope Borough
Bruce J. Terris, Edward H. Comer
1826 18th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 332-1882

Counsel for Plaintiff National Wildlife Federation
Patrick A. Parenteau
1412 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 797-6800

Counsel for Plaintiff Village of Kaktovik
Clifton E. Curtiss
Center for Law and Social Policy
1751 N St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 872-0670

Counsel for Federal Defendants
Margaret N. Strand
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2778

Counsel for Defendant-Intervenors
E. Edward Bruce, John T. Smith
Covington & Burling
888 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 452-6800

Owen Olpin, Donald M. Weesling
O'Melveny & Myers
611 W. 6th St., Los Angeles CA 90017
(213) 620-1120

Counsel for Amicus Curiae State of Alaska
Robert Loeffler, Ass't Attorney General
Department of Law, Pouch K, Juneau AK 99811
(907) 465-3600