In Native Village of Point Hope v. Jewell, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management did not have to include information on animal populations in its environmental impact statement (“EIS”) at the lease-sale stage of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act oil and gas development program. Federal agencies are required to complete an EIS before conducting a major federal action. This process ensures that decision-makers take a hard look at adverse environmental impacts. The Ninth Circuit concluded in Native Village of Point Hope that coverage of animal populations is not “essential” in an early-stage “programmatic” EIS, but may be appropriate at a later stage. This Comment argues that the Ninth Circuit should have followed the lead of its own precedent in holding that the missing information about animal populations is “essential” in early-stage programmatic EIS, in order to maintain consistency, transparency, and predictability in the federal courts. Moreover, it would have ensured that agencies fully evaluate the environmental impacts of offshore oil production before making critical decisions.
Essentially Reasonable?: Why the Ninth Circuit’s Decision in Native Village of Point Hope Strays from the Purpose of NEPA,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.
E. Supp. 94