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Sierra Club v. United States Department of Agriculture

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20116
Nos. 12-5095, (D.C. Cir., 05/28/2013)

The D.C. Circuit held that a power company may not appeal a lower court decision that USDA's Rural Utilities Service violated NEPA before granting approvals and financial assistance to the company's expansion of its coal-fired power plant. An environmental group filed suit against the Service for failing to prepare an EIS before granting the approvals. The lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the group and enjoined the Service from granting further approvals until it completed an EIS. The power company appealed this decision as an intervener, claiming that its appeal fits within the collateral order doctrine because its interests "will be irretrievably lost in the absence of an immediate appeal." But the court has consistently declined invitations to apply the doctrine to private-party appeals from remand orders. Other circuits have also held that a district court order remanding for preparation of an EIS does not constitute a "final decision" appealable by a private party under the collateral order doctrine. Accordingly, because the company is appealing a non-final remand order that is not immediately appealable by a private party, the doctrine does not apply. In addition, the injunction against the Service serves no function beyond the remand order. The court, therefore, dismissed the company's appeal for lack of jurisdiction.