Wildearth Guardians v United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Guardians and other plaintiffs sued Service arguing its transfer of certain land from the Rocky Flats refuge to localities to build a road violated the Rocky Flats Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. The district court granted summary judgment to Service and the panel affirmed. It held the transfer complied with the Rocky Flats Act because the Act was ambiguous as to whether service or the Department of Energy had the authority to transfer when the cleanup at rocky flats was complete and thus Chevron deference applied and Service’s interpretation was reasonable for interpreting the Act to only allow the department of energy to transfer and to only do so after the cleanup of rocky flats was done but before eh whole property was transferred to Service would be unreasonable in light of congressional intent to relieve transportation burdens in the area and the Act’s division of responsibility of nuclear waste clean up to energy and wildlife activities to Service. The panel also held that a provision authorizing energy to do “other actions” cannot reasonably be interpreted to give energy power to transfer given the detailed instructions on the matter in the Act. The panel held service’s conclusion the transfer would have no significant environmental impact was not arbitrary and capricious as it reasonably relied on the EPA to find that the construction of  a road would not result in dangerous levels of plutonium exposure, using then applicable air standards was reasonable, the potential effects on an endangered mouse were mentioned and forecasting the hypothetical road construction will follow environmental standards is reasonable when such standards are required under the Rocky Flats Act to be part of the construction plan. The panel finally held teat the service complied with the endangered species Act either because it had no need to issue a statement about the effects of the transfer on an endangered mouse or because it issued a statement explaining possible take of the mouse could occur.