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Kleppe v. Sierra Club

United States Supreme Court
427 U.S. 390 (1976)


In an effort to protect their members’ enjoyment and use of the Northern Great Plains Region (the Region), the Sierra Club and other environmental interest groups (plaintiffs) filed suit in federal court against Thomas Kleppe, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Department of Interior, and others (defendants) seeking injunctive and declaratory relief to require federal agencies to develop and issue an environmental impact statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) on the entire Region prior to the agencies’ approving any coal-related or mining operations. Section 102(2)(C) of NEPA required all agencies to include an EIS, “in every recommendation or report on proposals for legislation and other major Federal actions” significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C). The district court concluded that plaintiffs had failed to sufficiently show that the defendants had either (1) proposals for legislation or (2) major Federal actions pending and granted summary judgment in favor of defendants. Plaintiffs appealed. The court of appeals reversed and held that a regional plan or program was “contemplated” requiring an EIS under the statute. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)


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