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Columbia Riverkeeper v. United States Coast Guard

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20179
Nos. 12-73385, (9th Cir., 08/05/2014)

The Ninth Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to review a U.S. Coast Guard letter to FERC concerning the suitability of the Columbia River for vessel traffic associated with a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility and pipeline. The letter of recommendation stated that although the river is not currently suitable, it could be made suitable for the type and frequency of LNG marine traffic associated with the project. It also recommended certain mitigation measures to address safety and security risks. Environmental groups that oppose the LNG project filed a petition for review, claiming that the Coast Guard failed to comply with NEPA and the ESA prior to issuing the letter. But the letter of recommendation was not a final agency action. The Coast Guard’s letter of recommendation is not an agency determination granting or denying permission to take some action. Moreover, the Coast Guard has no enforcement authority over FERC’s siting decision, and its letter of recommendation does not produce legal consequences.