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Wyoming v. Lujan

ELR Citation: 22 ELR 21483
Nos. No. 91-8019, 969 F.2d 877/(10th Cir., 07/07/1992)

The court holds that Wyoming lacks standing to challenge an exchange of federal coal, owned by the U.S. Department of the Interior, for a conservation easement within the Grand Teton National Park. The court holds that although the state arguably showed a plausible benefit from potential royalties from the coal sufficient to demonstrate injury in fact from the exchange, it has not satisfied the redressability prong of standing because the relief requested, prohibiting the exchange, will not redress the threatened loss of royalties. The court notes that federal courts do not have the authority to order competitive leasing, since this authority is vested in the executive branch. The court concludes that it is merely speculative whether a favorable ruling will redress the state's injuries; thus, such a ruling cannot guarantee the state any coal leasing royalties. The court next holds that Wyoming lacks prudential standing under §206(a) of the Federal Land Policy Management Act to advance state and local interests, because Wyoming must assert its own legal rights and interests, not those of third parties, and the state's complaint does not fall within the zone of interests the Act seeks to protect. Moreover, Congress did not intend that a state become an express beneficiary under the Act, ousting the Secretary of the Interior from his authority and responsibility to define the contours of the public interest. The court also notes that Wyoming does not have standing as parens patriae to bring an action on behalf of its citizens against the federal government, because the federal government is presumed to represent the interests of Wyoming's citizens.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellants
Vicci M. Colgan, Senior Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
123 State Capitol Bldg., Cheyenne WY 82002
(307) 777-7841

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Ellen J. Durkee, Fred R. Wagner, Martin W. Matzen
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Gaines Gwathmey III
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
1285 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10019
(212) 373-3000