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Pacific Legal Found. v. Watt

ELR Citation: 12 ELR 20976
Nos. Nos. CV-81-141-BLG, -168-BLG, 539 F. Supp. 1194/18 ERC 1266/(D. Mont., 06/03/1982) Motion for reconsideration denied

The district court denies the Department of the Interior's motion for reconsideration of its decision, 12 ELR 20197, upholding the constitutionality of §204(e) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). Under §204(e), a committee of either house of Congress may request the Secretary to make emergency withdrawals. In its prior ruling, the court held that a House committee violated §204(e) of FLPMA by directing the Secretary to withdraw three wilderness areas from mineral leasing for a specified period of time. The court determines that its interpretation is consistent with the Department's regulations for implementing §204(e) and with the manner in which the committee has previously exercised its withdrawal authority. Granting the federal defendants' motion for clarification of the judgment, the court deletes those portions that required the Secretary to determine the scope and duration of the withdrawal and to follow certain procedures in handling oil and gas leases in the wilderness areas. Finally, the court rules that events occurring subsequent to its decision have not rendered the case moot. The actions of the committee and the Secretary indicate that a recurrence of the alleged violations is possible. Dismissal of the instant action followed by a recurrence of the wilderness area leasing conflict might render relitigation ineffective in light of the time limits established by the Wilderness Act.

[The issues raised in this case are analyzed at 12 ELR 10023 — Ed.]

Counsel are listed at 12 ELR 20197.