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West Mich. Envtl. Action Council v. Natural Resources Comm'n

Citation: 9 ELR 20487
No. No. 60800, 275 N.W.2d 538/12 ERC 1872/405 Mich. 741, (Mich., 02/20/1979)

The Michigan Supreme Court reverses the lower court's approval of appellee agency's issuance of permits allowing exploratory oil drilling in the Pigeon River Country State Forest. The Michigan Environmental Protection Act (1) forbids state agencies from taking action likely to pollute, impair, or destroy the air, water, or other natural resources or the public trust therein, and (2) requires the courts, when reviewing administrative action under the Act, to adjudicate on a de novo basis whether such impacts are likely to occur. The court finds that the lower court erred in deferring to the judgment of the defendant agency in making this determination. Further, because the record shows that the drilling permits at issue are likely to result in the material impairment of the habitat of elk and other species, the court remands the case to the trial court for entry of judgment permanently enjoining drilling pursuant to such permits. Three dissenters would remand the case for further proceedings.

Counsel for Appellants
Roger L. Conner
1330 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 223-9640

Counsel for Appellees
Frank J. Kelley, Attorney General; Robert A. Derengoski, Solicitor General; Stewart H. Freeman, Thomas F. Schimpf, Ass't Attorneys General
525 W. Ottawa, Lansing MI 48913
(517) 373-1110

Counsel for Intervenor-Appellees
Richard B. Foster, Webb A. Smith, Terence V. Lunam
Foster, Swift, Collins & Coey, P.C.
Suite One, Plaza 1
401 S. Washington Square, Lansing MI 48913
(517) 372-8050


KAVANAGH, C.J., and COLEMAN, J., concur.