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National Wildlife Federation v. Lujan
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
950 F.2d 765 (1991)
The secretary of the Interior (the secretary) (defendant) promulgated regulations under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA), regarding the release of performance bonds after revegetation of a mining site and the termination of jurisdiction over such a site. SMCRA intended to balance protection of the environment from the effects of surface mining with the country’s need for coal energy. Surface-mining operators were required to submit a reclamation plan for their surface-mining sites. The plan was required to show how the operator intended to complete soil reconstruction and revegetation of the land. Operators were also required to post a performance bond to ensure the reclamation was completed successfully. Revegetation periods were five years in the eastern part of the country and 10 years in the western part. Under 30 C.F.R. § 700.11(d)(1), a regulatory authority was permitted to terminate its own jurisdiction over a reclamation site if all requirements imposed for a release of the performance bond were met. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) (plaintiff) challenged the validity of the secretary’s regulations. NWF argued that the regulations impermissibly terminated a regulatory authority’s jurisdiction to pursue latent violations at a reclaimed surface-mining site. The district court found that the secretary’s interpretation of the SMCRA was unreasonable and struck down the regulations. The secretary appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Randolph, J.)
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