- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Environmental Law
- Date Filed: 10-14-2022
- Case #: 20-35411
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Christen, J. for the Court; Nelson, J.; Rawlinson, J.
- Full Text Opinion
When Signal Peak sought to expand mining in Montana, Respondent published an Environmental Assessment that approved the expansion and explained how the GHG emissions expected from the mine expansion wouldn't have a significant impact and approved the expansion. Petitioner challenged Respondent’s approval of Signal Peak’s proposal to expand mining in district court, which granted summary judgment to Respondent. Petitioners appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court held that Respondent violated the National Environmental Policy Act as it failed the act’s requirement of agencies to provide information and accurate analysis as it related to the impact of the environment. The arbitrary and capricious standard under the APA requires the court 'to determine whether the agency has taken a 'hard look' at the consequences of its actions, 'based [its decision] on a consideration of the relevant factors,' and provided a 'convincing statement of reasons to explain why a project's impacts are insignificant.' Barnes v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., 655 F.3d 1124, 1132 (9th Cir. 2011). The Court reasoned that Respondent failed to provide reasons why the mining expansion’s GHG emission impact to the environment was insignificant in the assessment because Respondent did so without citing to any authority or evidence in which would strengthen their argument and did not define specifically the impacts of the mine’s emissions. Additionally, the Court held the remedy for violating the NEPA and the APA is vacatur but since the record was not developed, the Court remanded the case to the district court to determine if vacatur is appropriate. The district court order is affirmed in part, reversed in part, and case is remanded.