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National Wildlife Fed'n v. Burford

Citation: 19 ELR 20341
No. No. 85-2238, 699 F. Supp. 327/(D.D.C., 11/04/1988) Dismissed for lack of standing, injunction vacated

The court holds that an environmental group lacks standing in its challenge seeking to prohibit the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from lifting development restrictions on 180 million acres of public land, and lifts a preliminary injunction that had been in place for almost three years. Plaintiff had challenged BLM's termination of certain public land classifications and revocation of land withdrawals, the net result of which would be to allow mineral exploration and development in areas in which such activities had previously not been allowed. The court first holds that plaintiff has not shown that it has suffered informational or procedural injury as an organization. Plaintiff's affidavit supporting its claim states only that it has suffered injury because of BLM's alleged failure to provide adequate information and public participation with respect to the land withdrawal review program. This statement is conclusory and does not allege specific facts sufficient to support standing. The court then holds that plaintiff has not demonstrated environmental injury to its members. Although injury to the environment can support a claim of member standing, plaintiff has not made the required particularized showing of injury in this case. The members who filed affidavits in support of the standing claim stated only that they used federal lands in the vicinity of certain areas affected by BLM's decision to allow mining claims and oil and gas leasing. These statements lack factual specificity, and do not show injury-in-fact with respect to the two areas in question. Moreover, the two affidavits do not provide any basis for standing to challenge the legality of the 1,250 or so individual classification terminations and withdrawal revocations.

[Earlier decisions in this litigation are published at 16 ELR 20422, 20427, and 18 ELR 20328 and 20857. Materials from the litigation are digested at ELR PEND. LIT. 65866 and 65935.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Kathleen L. Zimmerman, Norman L. Dean Jr.
National Wildlife Federation
1412 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 797-6800

Counsel for Defendant
Fred K. Disheroon, Susan V. Cook
Land and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2000