Kleppe v. Sierra Club

LOCATION: District Court of Lincoln County

DOCKET NO.: 75-552
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 427 US 390 (1976)
ARGUED: Apr 28, 1976
DECIDED: Jun 28, 1976

A. Raymond Randolph, Jr. - for petitioners Thomas S
Bruce J. Terris - for respondents Sierra Club and others
Francis M. Shea - for petitioners in both cases
Randolph -
V. Frank Mendicino - for the State of Wyoming, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court
V. Frank Mendocino -

Facts of the case


Media for Kleppe v. Sierra Club

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 28, 1976 in Kleppe v. Sierra Club

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 28, 1976 in Kleppe v. Sierra Club

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 75-552, Kleppe, the Secretary of Interior against the Sierra Club and American Electric Power System against the Sierra Club will be announced by Mr. Justice Powell.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

This case and the companion case presenting the same issue are here on writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires environmental impact statements on the various circumstances.

Federal agencies, whenever they make a recommendation or proposal upon major federal action that will significantly affect the environment, are required to file an impact system.

The Sierra Club and other organizations brought this suit to force the Secretary of Interior and other federal officials to prepare an environmental impact statement on an entire area in the northern great plains.

This was said to be necessary before committing private companies to mine any of the vast coal reserves controlled by the federal government in that area.

The District Court ruled in favor of the federal officials, but the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case to the District Court.

The Court of Appeals also enjoined the Secretariat approval of several mining plans in one portion of the northern great plains area.

We stayed that injunction when we granted these petitions.

We now vacate the injunction, reverse the Court of Appeals and reinstate the judgment of the District Court.

We agree with the District Court that there exists no proposal for a major federal action with respect to the northern great plains area as a whole.

In absence of such a proposal, the Act by it's plain language does not require an environmental impact statement on an entire region.

But federal officials may continue to prepare statements on individual leases or on groups of proposals that may have accumulative environmental effect upon geographically defined areas.

Mr. Justice Marshall with whom Mr. Justice Brennan joined, has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Powell.