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Supreme Court of the United States
April 27, 2010, Argued; June 21, 2010, Decided
[**2749] [*144] Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case arises out of a decision by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to deregulate a variety of genetically engineered alfalfa. The District Court held that APHIS violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 83 Stat. 852, 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., by issuing its deregulation decision without first completing a detailed assessment of the environmental consequences of its proposed course of action. To remedy that violation, the District Court vacated the agency's decision completely deregulating the alfalfa variety in question; ordered [****10] APHIS not to act on the deregulation petition in whole or in part until it had completed a detailed environmental review; and enjoined almost all future planting of the genetically engineered alfalfa pending the completion of that review. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's entry of permanent injunctive relief. The main issue now in dispute concerns the breadth of that relief. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
The Plant Protection Act (PPA), 114 Stat. 438, 7 U.S.C. § 7701 et seq., provides that the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) may issue regulations “to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States or the dissemination of plant pests within the United States.” § 7711(a). The Secretary has delegated that authority to APHIS, a division of the USDA. 7 CFR §§ 2.22(a), 2.80(a)(36) (2010). Acting pursuant to that delegation, APHIS has promulgated regulations governing “the introduction of organisms and products altered or produced through genetic engineering that are plant pests or are believed to be plant pests.” See § 340.0(a)(2) and n. 1. Under [***469] those regulations, certain genetically engineered [****11] plants are presumed to be “plant pests”--and thus “regulated articles” [*145] under the PPA-- [**2750] until APHIS determines otherwise. See ibid.; §§ 340.1, 340.2, 340.6; see also App. 183. However, any person may petition APHIS for a determination that a regulated article does not present a plant pest risk and therefore should not be subject to the applicable regulations. 7 U.S.C. § 7711(c)(2); 7 CFR § 340.6. APHIS may grant such a petition in whole or in part. § 340.6(d)(3).
In deciding whether to grant nonregulated status to a genetically engineered plant variety, APHIS must comply with NEPA, which requires federal agencies “to the fullest extent possible” to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for “every recommendation or report on proposals for legislation and other major Federal actio[n] significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C). The statutory text “speaks solely in terms of proposed actions; it does not require an agency to consider the possible environmental impacts of less imminent actions when preparing the impact statement on proposed actions.” Kleppe v. Sierra Club, 427 U.S. 390, 410, n. 20, 96 S. Ct. 2718, 49 L. Ed. 2d 576 (1976).
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561 U.S. 139 *; 130 S. Ct. 2743 **; 177 L. Ed. 2d 461 ***; 2010 U.S. LEXIS 4980 ****; 78 U.S.L.W. 4665; 40 ELR 20167; 70 ERC (BNA) 1481; 22 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 524
MONSANTO COMPANY, et al., Petitioners v. GEERTSON SEED FARMS et al.
Subsequent History: Related proceeding at, Motion denied by, Motion withdrawn by Ctr. for Food Safety v. Vilsack, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122799 (N.D. Cal., Oct. 24, 2011)
Costs and fees proceeding at, Motion granted by Geertson Seed Farms v. Johanns, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129381 (N.D. Cal., Nov. 8, 2011)
Prior History: [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.
Geertson Seed Farms v. Johanns, 570 F.3d 1130, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 29125 (9th Cir. Cal., 2009)
Disposition: Reversed and remanded.
deregulation, district court, planting, partial, injunction, alfalfa, genetically, environmental, farmers, contamination, prepare, crops, harvesting, enjoining, regulations, vacated, seed, engineered, proposed judgment, injunctive relief, conditions, conventional, vacatur, parties, limitations, completion, equitable, terms, permanent injunction, respondents'
Business & Corporate Compliance, Governments, Agriculture & Food, Disease & Pest Control, Environmental Law, Assessment & Information Access, Environmental Impact Statements, Environmental Law, Environmental Assessments, Natural Resources & Public Lands, National Environmental Policy Act, General Overview, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Standing, Elements, Civil Procedure, Injunctions, Grounds for Injunctions, Remedies, Permanent Injunctions