Advocacy groups cannot challenge federal regulations on public lands unless they can prove they are themselves directly threatened by the proposed rules, the Supreme Court ruled in a split decision on Tuesday.
In a 5-4 ruling, the justices sided with the Bush administration, which argued that environmental groups do not have the standing to sue the U.S. Forest Service (FS) on land management policies that might contradict congressional action.
The Summers v. Earth Island Institute case turned on whether the FS violated the requirements of the 1992 Appeals Reform Act -- a law designed to ensure the agency considers public comment when it writes land and resource management plans -- when it enacted regulations that limited the rights of notice, appeals and public comment on certain projects that it deemed to have little environmental impact.
A number of environmental groups filed a lawsuit to challenge the regulations, which they argued removed the right to appeal the agency's timber management decisions. In 2005, Judge James Singleton of the U.S. District Court in Anchorage issued a nationwide injunction against the FS. In August 2006, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision.
The Supreme Court sided with the Bush administration, finding that groups or individuals can challenge regulations in court only if they can show that they will be directly harmed by specific actions resulting from the regulations.
The full article is available at www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/03/03/03greenwire-supreme-court-limits-groups-standing-to-challen-9971.html.
Reprinted in part from The New York Times