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Hall v. Norton

ELR Citation: 32 ELR 20199
Nos. No. 99-16153, 266 F.3d 969/53 ERC 1073/(9th Cir., 09/12/2001)

The court affirms in part and reverses in part a district court grant of summary judgment in favor of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in a suit brought by an individual who alleged that a BLM transfer of federal lands in Nevada violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The individual claimed that BLM failed to comply with NEPA in completing the environmental assessment for the transfer and that the transfer violated the CAA's conformity provision by exacerbating air quality problems in the Las Vegas nonattainment area. The district court held that it lacked standing to review the individual's CAA claim and that the individual lacked standing to bring the NEPA claim. The court first holds that as the district court noted, federal regulations exempt federal land transfers from the CAA's conformity requirements. Thus, the individual's CAA challenge to the transfer must be considered a challenge to the validity of this exemption, and challenges to nationally applicable regulations may only be filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. Therefore, the district court properly concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The court next holds, however, that the district court erroneously held that the individual lacked standing to bring his NEPA claim. In averring that the developments planned for the transferred land will lead to emissions that will aggravate his respiratory problems, the individual presented evidence of a credible threat to his physical well-being that suffices as injury-in-fact for standing purposes. Moreover, because the development will result in new emissions that could plausibly affect the individual, he established the causation prong of standing. Further, in order to prove redressability for standing purposes, it suffices that the individual alleges that the environmental considerations required by NEPA could influence BLM's decision to transfer the land. In addition, because the district court did not fully consider the cumulative impacts argument of the individual's NEPA claim, the district court grant of summary judgment on the merits of the NEPA claim is reversed and remanded.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Robert W. Hall
Law Offices of Robert W. Hall
5200 Dancer Way, Las Vegas NV 89107
(702) 870-4822

Counsel for Defendants
Steve Herm
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Paez., J. Before Goodwin and Graber JJ.