Wednesday :: Dec 17, 2003

Yellowstone Smackdown

by Duckman GR

by Duckman GR

I think we might have won one. It seems that U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, in no uncertain terms, threw out the Bush Administration Snowmobile Plan. Here’s some of the smackdown. I highlighted some extra good parts

Moreover, an explanation for this abrupt change, and the court's review of that change, must be made in view of the statutory mandate that governs the agency's actions. Here, as reviewed supra, and duly recognized by the NPS in the 2003 ROD, NPS is bound by a conservation mandate, and that mandate trumps all other considerations. (pg 24-25 ruling)

The gap between the decision made in 2001, and the decision made in 2003 is stark. In 2001, the rulemaking process culminated in a finding that snowmobiling so adversely impacted the wildlife and resources of the Parks that all snowmobile use must be halted. A scant three years later, the rulemaking process culminated in the conclusion that nearly one thousand snowmobiles will be allowed to enter the park each day. In 2001, the NPS selected the "environmentally preferred alternative." In 2003, the NPS rejected the environmentally preferred alternative, and instead chose an alternative whose "primary beneficiaries" are the "park visitors who ride snowmobiles in the parks and the businesses that serve them." In light of its clear conservation mandate, and the previous conclusion that snowmobile use amounted to unlawful impairment, the Agency is under an obligation to explain this 180 degree reversal. NPS has not met this obligation. NPS's explanation that technological improvements and mitigation measures justify this change has, as noted above, proven weak at best. In "swerv[ing] from prior precedents" without a cogent, supported explanation, the agency has "crossed the line from the tolerably terse to the intolerably mute." Greater Boston Television Corp. v. F.C.C., 444 F.2d 841, 844 (D.C. Cir. 1970). An agency decision codifying such an unreasoned change is "quintessentially arbitrary and capricious," and thus cannot stand. Louisiana Public Service Com'n, 184 F.3d at 897. Therefore, the Court remands the 2003 SEIS and ROD to the agency for further consideration not inconsistent with this opinion. 12

12 Indeed, there is evidence in the Record that there isn't an explanation for this change, and that the SEIS was completely politically driven and result oriented. See NPS Meeting Agenda for June 3, A.R. 51,392 (defining the "internal objective" as "to determine under what terms and conditions snowmobiling will continue in the three parks," and the external objective as "whether to affirm the previous decision or to make a new one."); A.R. 51,416 (participant in NPS meeting noting that "Gale Norton wants to be able to come away saying some snowmobiles are allowed.").

(pg 30-31)

Here’s the full ruling in PDF, and here’s the Greater Yellowstone Coalition site. Oh, the joy. As someone said elsewhere, it’s time for a Snoopy Dance.

No, no, the Bush Regime only has the interests of the American People at heart. They would never sell us out for the interests of their corporate masters, no not ever. Despite the fact that in the latest round of public comments, some 80% of the 350,000 comments received opposed Bush’s plan, Gale Norton went ahead and served those “’primary beneficiaries’…the ‘park visitors who ride snowmobiles in the parks and the businesses that serve them.’”

That's twice today that James Watt lackey got rained on. I'm surprised she didn't melt.

Duckman GR :: 11:34 AM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!