Saturday, May 4, 2013

Metcalf v. Daley case brief

Metcalf v. Daley case brief
214 F.3d 1135 (9th Cir. 2000)

CASE SYNOPSIS: Appellants challenged order of United States District Court for Western District of Washington, which granted summary judgment in favor of appellee federal agencies and Native American tribe in appellants' claim that appellees violated the National Environmental Policy Act in approving appellee Native American tribe's whaling proposal.

FACTS: Appellants contended that appellee federal agencies had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by agreeing to support appellee Native American tribe's whaling proposal and then subsequently preparing an environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI). The court concluded that appellee federal agencies prepared the EA too late in the decision-making process because they engaged in the EA process only after they had signed a contract with appellee Native American tribe. The court held that by making such a firm commitment before preparing an EA, appellee federal agencies failed to take a hard look at the environmental consequences of their actions, thereby violating NEPA. In fashioning a remedy, the court determined that the EA prepared after resources were irretrievably committed was demonstrably suspect because the process under which it was prepared was fatally defective. Thus, the court ordered that a new EA be prepared under circumstances that ensured an objective evaluation free of the previous taint.

CONCLUSION: Order reversed and remanded because appellee federal agencies prepared environmental assessment (EA) too late in decision-making process as they engaged in NEPA process only after signing a contract with appellee Native American tribe to support its whaling proposal; appellee federal agencies were to prepare new EA.

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