International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association v. Norton

340 F. Supp. 2d 1249 (2004)

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International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association v. Norton

United States District Court for the District of Wyoming
340 F. Supp. 2d 1249 (2004)

  • Written by Robert Cane, JD

Facts

In 1997, the National Park Service (park service) began considering the phaseout of snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway (collectively, the parks). In April 2000, before a final environmental-impact statement and record of decision were issued regarding the phaseout of snowmobiles, Donald Barry, assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, sent a memorandum to the director of the park service, directing the park service to prohibit snowmobiles in the parks. Barry held a press conference disparaging snowmobile use in the parks. In 2001, the park service issued its final environmental-impact statement and final rule (snowcoach rule) that provided for the phase out of snowmobile use in the parks in favor of snowcoach use. However, the park service did not conduct any scientific study on the impacts of additional snowcoaches in the parks. As soon as the final snowcoach rule was published, the new presidential administration stayed the rule. The park service issued a subsequent environmental-impact statement and corresponding record of decision permitting continued snowmobile use, which replaced the snowcoach rule. Environmental groups challenged the decision in a suit against the park service. The D.C. district court vacated the more recent environmental-impact statement and decision that permitted snowmobile use in the parks. Consequently, the snowcoach rule was reinstated. The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (the association) (plaintiff), which had intervened in the case, filed an emergency motion to prevent implementation of the snowcoach rule; it was denied. The association then sued the park service in the Wyoming district court to prevent the implementation of the snowcoach rule. The association claimed that the park service had failed to properly assess the environmental impact of snowcoaches and had made a prejudged political decision to prohibit snowmobiles, which violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brimmer, J.)

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