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American Motorcyclist Ass'n v. Watt

Citation: 12 ELR 21064
No. Nos. CV 80-5561-AWT et al., 543 F. Supp. 789/17 ERC 2204/(C.D. Cal., 07/01/1982) Judgment for defendants

The courtrules that the offroad vehicle (ORV) route designation criteria in the California Desert Conservation Area Plan are inconsistent with regulations promulgated pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and two executive orders. The court first rules that several environmental group plaintiffs have standing because they have demonstrated injury-in-fact, compliance with the regulation would redress their injury, and they have asserted environmental interests which are in the zone of interests protected by FLPMA. However, the Desert Tortoise Council did not allege injury-in-fact and therefore does not have standing. The court also rules that the case is ripe for review since plaintiffs have shown that a motorcycle race route has been approved. In addition, even if they had not shown actual application, plaintiffs have satisfied the tests for judicial review of newly promulgated administrative rules. While several plaintiffs have not exhausted their administrative remedies because they did not challenge the regulations at the prior administrative proceedings, the court rules that they are not barred from obtaining review since application of the exhaustion of administrative remedies rule to notice and comment rulemaking is inappropriate.

The court rules that the plan's route approval criteria are invalid because they do not contain the minimization of environmental impacts criteria mandated by the regulations. While the plan's criteria are neutrally phrased, they are likely to skew route designation decisionmaking in favor of ORV use and do not make clear that the FLPMA regulations also apply to route selection. The court concludes that declaratory and injunctive relief is sufficient to protect the interests of the plaintiffs.

Counsel are listed at 12 ELR 20846.