(Gasp!) Ninth Circuit Decision Slaps Down Eco-Extremists

(Gasp!) Ninth Circuit Decision Slaps Down Eco-Extremists

July 10, 2020

Astute Americans who have seen one poor decision after another from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – whether it be on gun control, parental choice or especially energy and development cases – may have fallen out of their chairs when the Court handed down a ruling yesterday.

In its unpublished decision in National Resources Defense Council, et al vs Bernhardt, the Court upheld (the equally-surprising) Judge Gleason’s US Federal Court decision, and crushed the legal arguments presented by a set of radical environmental organizations, including NRDC, The Alaska Wilderness League, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Northern Alaska Environmental Center and the Wilderness Society. 

Those groups had argued that the NEPA process that concluded with a final Environmental Impact Statement in 2012 needed to be re-started in its entirety for a series of lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA) 2016 and 2017, since the 2012 EIS didn’t address climate change.

The three-judge panel disagreed – vehemently – stating: “ We reject fully the Plaintiffs’ arguments that the 2012 EIS could not have been the NEPA analysis for the 2016 and 2017 lease sales because it did not assess the climate-change impacts…we are not persuaded that BLM’s discussion of climate-change impacts differed so substantially (if at all) from what the NEPA required…”

Further language in the decision undermined the radical environmentalists’ case, and ended with judgment affirming the 2012 NEPA process and subsequent EIS as valid and complete.

That decision allows ConocoPhillips Alaska to move forward with its plans to develop leases it holds in NPR-A.  With an estimated 130,000 barrels a day known to be in its lease areas, the ability to move forward is an outstanding step for Alaskan jobs and future throughput increases in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.