Flagstaff, AZ — Senior United States District Judge Stephen McNamee dismissed yet another lawsuit (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. United States Forest Service) filed by the activist group, Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).
This lawsuit was filed on September 5, 2012, by the CBD, the Sierra Club, and the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council (GCWC). It alleged that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) was legally obligated to regulate the use of lead ammunition under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), a federal law governing the disposal of hazardous waste.
CBD’s complaint claimed that spent ammunition in the Kaibab National Forest presents an “imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment.” Specifically, plaintiffs asserted that wildlife in the Kaibab National Forest, especially scavenging avian such as California condors, bald and golden eagles, are getting lead poisoning from eating lead bullets in carrion left in the field by hunters. CBD claimed that a prohibition of the use of lead ammunition was needed to protect wildlife.
The federal court, however, dismissed CBD’s case for failing to establish that the court could grant relief based on plaintiffs’ claims.
Dismissal of CBD’s Case
The court dismissed CBD’s case, finding that the plaintiffs did not meet the procedural “standing” requirements necessary to have their case heard by a federal court. The court ruled this way because plaintiffs in federal court must be able to show that the court can grant the relief the plaintiff seeks. The court found, however, that it was not empowered to order the U.S. Forest Service to perform discretionary acts such as rule making pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, and even if it could compel the USFS to initiate the rule making process necessary to prevent the disposal of lead within Kaibab National Forest the outcome of such an order “would be uncertain because [the USFS] would be required to consult with Arizona, accept public comments, balance competing interests, and consider a no action alternative.” The court further noted that because condors are known for long distance travel and could easily fly and feed outside the boarder of Kaibab National Forest, banning lead ammunition in the Kaibab National Forest was unlikely to remedy plaintiffs’ alleged injury. As such, the court found that it was speculative whether a favorable ruling would be likely to redress Plaintiff’s injury and the court dismissed the case on grounds that the court lacked Article III jurisdiction.
[Editor's note: On August 21, 2013, CBD, the Sierra Club, and GCWC filed a notice of appeal. Stay tuned…]
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