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Law School Case Brief

Kleppe v. Sierra Club - 427 U.S. 390, 96 S. Ct. 2718 (1976)

Rule:

When several proposals for actions that will have cumulative or synergistic environmental impact upon a region are pending concurrently before an agency, their environmental consequences must be considered together. Only through comprehensive consideration of pending proposals can the agency evaluate different courses of action.

Facts:

Several environmental organizations filed suit against the Department of the Interior and other federal agencies, claiming that they could not allow further development of the Northern Great Plains region without preparing a comprehensive environmental impact statement under § 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C.S. § 4321 et seq., on the entire region. The appellate court ruled in favor of the environmental organizations.

Issue:

Did the federal agencies act arbitrarily in refusing to prepare one comprehensive environmental statement on the entire region?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the organizations could prevail only if there had been a report on a proposal for major federal action with respect to the Northern Great Plains region.  The finding of the appellate court that the agencies were contemplating a regional development plan was not supported by the language or legislative history of NEPA. Therefore, the injunction against the Department of Interior's approval of the mining plans was improper because there was no threat of irreparable harm.

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