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Sierra Club v. U.S. Forest Serv.

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20297
Nos. No. 05-16989, (9th Cir., 12/05/2007)

The Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court's grant of summary judgment for the U.S. Forest Service in a challenge to three prescribed burns in California that plaintiffs alleged violated the National Environmental Policy Act by establishing a categorical exclusion for all fuel reduction projects up to 1,000 acres and certain prescribed burn projects on national forests. Where federal agencies fail to follow proper procedures for establishing categorical exclusions, including demonstration that the proposed categorical exclusion will not individually nor cumulatively have a significant impact on the environment, and where they fail to make a "reasoned decision" based on relevant factors and information, such actions are arbitrary and capricious.