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Summers v. Earth Island Inst.

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20047
Nos. No. 07-463, (U.S., 03/03/2009)

The U.S. Supreme Court held that environmental groups lack standing to challenge U.S. Forest Service regulations exempting certain land management activities from the agency's review process absent a live dispute over the concrete application of those regulations. The regulations exempt small fire-rehabilitation and timber-salvage projects from the notice, comment, and appeal process used by the Forest Service for more significant land management decisions. Harm to group members' recreational or esthetic interests in the National Forests will suffice to establish the requisite concrete and particularized injury, but generalized harm to the forest or the environment will not alone suffice. Here, the groups have identified no application of the invalidated regulations that threatens imminent and concrete harm to their members’ interests. In addition, the groups' argument that they have standing because they have suffered procedural injury—i.e., they have been denied the ability to file comments on some Forest Service actions and will continue to be so denied—fails because such a deprivation without some concrete interest affected thereby is insufficient to create Article III standing. Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C.J., and Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, JJ., joined. Kennedy, J., filed a concurring opinion. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined.