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Earthworks v. U.S. Department of the Interior

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20243
Nos. 09-1972 (RC), (D.D.C., 10/26/2020) (Contreras, J.)

A district court denied environmental groups' motion for summary judgment in a challenge to two mining-related rules issued by BLM. The groups argued that the 2008 Mining Claim Rule violated the General Mining Law and FLPMA by improperly restricting the application of FLPMA's fair market-value mandate, that the 2003 Mill Site Rule violated the General Mining Law by allowing excessive mill site acreage, that both rules violated NEPA by not adequately providing for review and public comment, and that the 2003 rule violated the APA by departing radically from the proposed rule. The court found that it was not unreasonable for BLM to conclude in promulgating the 2008 rule that there were no meaningful operations on validly claimed or unclaimed lands and thus no need for it to seriously consider whether to charge fair market value for the activities, that the agency permissibly construed the mill site provision under the General Mining Law when it promulgated the 2003 rule, that the agency engaged the public such that neither rule violated NEPA, and that the final 2003 rule was a logical outgrowth of the proposed rule that complied with the APA's notice-and-comment requirements. It therefore denied the groups' motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment to BLM.