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Public Serv. Co. v. Andrus

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20715
Nos. No. 76-F-48, 433 F. Supp. 144/10 ERC 1951/(D. Colo., 05/31/1977)

The court grants plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in a suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) enforcement of regulations providing for reimbursement by the applicant of the government's costs in processing and monitoring applications for rights-of-way across public lands. The Independent Offices Appropriation Act and the Public Land Administration Act, upon which the regulations are based, permit the imposition of such charges only against those who are specially benefited by government services. The major portion of the direct governmental costs for which the government seeks reimbursement in this case stems from preparation of the environmental analyses and impact statements required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Because NEPA impact statements benefit primarily the general public rather than the applicants for the rights of way, the cost of their preparation cannot properly be charged to the applicants under either statute. The court declares that BLM can measure its reimbursement demands by the value of the particular services rendered that specially benefit the recipient and by the actual costs, both direct and indirect, to the agency of providing those services. The agency may not, however, take into consideration the ultimate monetary value of the rights-of-way. The court rules further that the agency may charge for costs incurred prior to the effective date of the reimbursement regulations or to the filing of an application. Enforcement of the regulations to the extent they exceed this delineation of BLM's authority under the two statutes is enjoined. See Comment, 7 ELR 10213.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Bryant O'Donnell, James R. McCotter
Kelly, Stansfield & O'Donnell
990 Public Service Bldg., Denver CO 80202
(303) 825-3534

Francis M. Shea, Richard T. Conway, William S. Moore, James R. Bieke
Shea & Gardner
Walker Bldg., Washington DC 20005
(202) 737-1255

Counsel for Defendants
James P. Gatlin, Ass't U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 3615, Denver CO 80214
(303) 837-2065