Defenders of Wildlife, et al. v. U.S. Dept. of the Navy, et al.

Plaintiffs filed suit against the Navy under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 701-706. Plaintiffs challenged the Navy's decision to install and operate an instrumented Undersea Warfare Training Range (the range) in waters adjacent to the only known calving grounds of the endangered North Atlantic right whale, and the NMFS's biological opinion assessing the impact of the range on threatened and endangered species. The court concluded that plaintiffs have not pointed to any provision in NEPA requiring an agency to authorize all phases of a proposed action evaluated in an environmental impact statement (EIS) at the time it issued a record of decision (ROD). Therefore, the court found that it was not an independent violation of NEPA, warranting reversal of the district court's judgment, for the Navy to enter into a construction contract after it signed an ROD authorizing construction and after having its NEPA analysis upheld by the district court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment that the Navy complied with NEPA. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Navy as to plaintiffs' remaining claims. View "Defenders of Wildlife, et al. v. U.S. Dept. of the Navy, et al." on Justia Law