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Conservation Law Foundation v. Ross

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20064
Nos. 18-1105 (JEB), (D.D.C., 04/15/2019) (Boasberg, J.)

A district court denied an environmental group's motion for summary judgment in a challenge to NMFS' approval of a fishery management plan amendment that opened up a portion of the western Gulf of Maine to commercial and recreational fishing. The group argued that NMFS wrongly concluded that the amendment complied with the Magnuson-Stevens Act's (MSA's) directive to protect essential fish habitat. But the court disagreed that the MSA required the agency to prioritize alternatives based solely on conservation value, and thus found that its analysis of alternatives was consistent with the directive. The group also argued that the range of alternatives analyzed in the final EIS fell short of NEPA's procedural demands. But the court found that the group's challenge entailed the type of line-drawing exercises properly entrusted to the agency's discretion, and deferred to NMFS' reasonable analysis of alternatives. It therefore denied the group's motion for summary judgment.