Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use
In re: Aiken County
Three state and local governmental units, along with individual citizens, petitioned the court for review of and other relief from two "determinations" made by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the other respondents: the DOE's attempt to withdraw the application it submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to construct a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada; and the DOE's apparent decision to abandon development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository. The court concluded that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 10101-270, set forth a process and schedule for the siting, construction, and operation of a federal repository for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. At this point in that process, the DOE had submitted a construction license application for the Yucca Mountain repository and the NRC maintained a statutory duty to review that application. Therefore, the court held that unless and until petitioners were able to demonstrate that one of the respondents had either violated a clear duty to act or otherwise affirmatively violated the law, petitioners' challenges to the ongoing administrative process was premature. Accordingly, the court held that it lacked jurisdiction over petitioners' claims and dismissed the petitions.
Amador County, California v. Kenneth Salazar, et al
The Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians ("Buena Vista") entered into a compact with California to engage in gaming on its tribal land and then petitioned the Secretary of the Interior ("Secretary") for approval of the compact. Amador County, in which Buena Vista's land was located, challenged the Secretary's "no-action" approval claiming that the land at issue failed to qualify as "Indian land." At issue was whether Amador County lacked constitutional standing to maintain the suit and whether a compact, that was deemed approved where he failed to act within the 45 day limit, was reviewable. The court held that Amador County had standing where its allegations were more than sufficient to establish concrete and particularized harm and where Amador County could easily satisfy the requirements of causation and redressability. The court also held that where, as here, a plaintiff alleged that a compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"), 25 U.S.C. 2710(d)(8)(C), and required the Secretary to disapprove the compact, nothing in the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. 701(a)(2), precluded judicial review of a subsection (d)(8)(C) no-action approval. Accordingly, the court remanded to give the district court the opportunity to assess the merits of the suit.