Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Environmental Law
  • Date Filed: 02-04-2013
  • Case #: 11-17843
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Wallace for the Court; Circuit Judge Bea and Judge Restani
  • Full Text Opinion

The Bureau of Land Management can allow the continuation of a mining plan, despite a hiatus in the mining operations. That continuation can occur without additional review under the National Environmental Policy Act, as long at there is not a new "major Federal action."

Appellants Center for Biological Diversity, et al., appealed the decision of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) allowing Denison Mines Corporation to restart mining operations after a hiatus in mining. Appellants argued that this was in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). Specifically, they claimed that the 1988 plan of operations was no longer effective after the mine was closed in the early 1990s and, thus, could not be used by Denison. The Court determined that, following a temporary closure, no regulation requires approval of a new plan before mining resumes. As such, the BLM did not abuse its discretion in allowing Denison to resume mining. Appellants also argued that the 1988 NEPA analysis is outdated and that the mining should be reviewed for its environmental impact. In concluding that additional NEPA review was not necessary, the Court noted that NEPA is only triggered when there is a new “major Federal action,” which was not present in this case. Further, Appellants argued that the BLM should not have allowed the gravel removal from the Robinson Wash under the categorical exclusion. The Court, however, concluded that the BLM was correct in applying this exclusion, because the permit did not affect the environment in a “cumulatively significant” way. AFFIRMED.

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