07/15/2010 01:36:00 PM EST
Marten Law on Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms: Supreme Court Reasserts Standard for Injunctive Relief in NEPA Cases
Steven Jones, Partner, Marten Law PLLC
In this Emerging Issues Analysis, Steven Jones of Marten Law PLLC discusses Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, in which the U.S. Supreme Court reiterated the four-part standard for injunctive relief it announced in 2008, confirming that this same standard applies in cases arising under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
“Monsanto presented the issue of whether cases arising under NEPA are subject to a standard for injunctive relief that is more favorable to NEPA plaintiffs, effectively affording project opponents with a presumption of irreparable harm,” writes Steven Jones. “In the case below, the Ninth Circuit upheld a district court's decision to permanently enjoin the planting of genetically modified ‘Roundup Ready’ alfalfa (RRA) nationwide, pending preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) under NEPA.”
“In Monsanto, the Court relied heavily on its 2008 opinion in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, another NEPA case,” explains the author. “The Ninth Circuit issued its opinion in Monsanto before the Supreme Court reiterated the standard for preliminary injunctions in Winter — in that case, the Court held that injunctive relief required a showing of: (1) likelihood of success on the merits; (2) likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities between the parties; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved. Petitioners in Monsanto alleged that the Ninth Circuit applied the wrong standard for permanent injunctive relief, threatening to make blanket injunctions all but automatic in NEPA cases.”
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Steven Jones, a partner with Marten Law PLLC, is the chair of the firm's litigation department. He has handled complex environmental and land use litigation for both public and private clients for 15 years. Steve has particular expertise in litigation arising under CERCLA, the Clean Water Act, the Federal Torts Claim Act and representing clients in litigation involving climate change, solid waste and nuisance issues. He also has extensive experience litigating land use issues under both SEPA and Washington's Growth Management Act. Steve has handled cases before all levels of the state and federal courts, along with administrative litigation before Washington's Pollution Control Hearings Board, the Growth Management Hearings Boards and Washington's Utilities and Transportation Commission. Steve also writes and speaks frequently on environmental and land use issues and has contributed chapters to both the AWB Environmental Compliance Handbook and WSBA Real Property Deskbook. He is the editor of the ABA's Superfund and NRD Litigation Committee Newsletter.