Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance: Supreme Court Eschews Agency's Failure to Protect Wilderness in Redrock Country

Sakashita, Miyoko
August 2005
Ecology Law Quarterly;2005, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p391
Academic Journal
On the fortieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the Supreme Court refused to enforce a statute that sought to protect the wilderness qualities of public lands. Recognizing the intrinsic value of wilderness, Congress ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to prevent impairment to lands awaiting wilderness designation. In Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, citizen groups challenged BLM's failure to prevent off-road vehicle damage to public lands. In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court declared the case unreviewable. The decision expanded unreviewability doctrine under the Administrative Procedure Act and presented a setback for environmental protection. The Court also limited citizen enforcement of environmental laws and restricted supplemental environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Meanwhile, wilderness destruction continues, thus undermining congressional intent to preserve wilderness.


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