Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sierra Club v. Babbitt

decided as corrected.: July 2, 1993.

SIERRA CLUB, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, AND GREEN VALLEY SPECIAL UTILITY DISTRICT, ET AL., INTERVENOR-PLAINTIFFS APPELLEES,
v.
BRUCE BABBITT, ETC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-INTERVENORS DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, AND UNITED SERVICES AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION, ET AL., INTERVENORS-DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS,



Appeals from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. D.C. DOCKET NUMBER MO-91-CA-069. JUDGE Lucius D. Bunton

Before Reavley and Garwood, Circuit Judges, and Lake*fn1, District Judge.

Author: Reavley

REAVLEY, Circuit Judge:

Because the district court's judgment imposes no injury upon the parties moving this appeal, no case or controversy remains. Lacking jurisdiction, we dismiss.

The Sierra Club sued the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Interior Secretary Lujan (collectively FWS) for violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq., by failing to adopt and implement plans to protect various endangered species that live in the San Marcos and Comal Springs of Central Texas. The district court admitted several governmental entities as plaintiff-intervenors, and opposing governmental entities and private water users as defendant-intervenors. After trial, the district court enjoined FWS to generate and disseminate information about the springflows necessary to protect endangered species at San Marcos and Comal Springs. FWS appealed, but later agreed to dismiss its appeal if the plaintiffs joined a "Motion to Clarify the Judgment and Findings," which did not affect the relief ordered against FWS. The plaintiffs joined the motion, the district court amended its findings and judgment in accord with the motion, and FWS dismissed its appeal. Several defendant-intervenors wish to continue an appeal in the absence of FWS. We dismiss for want of jurisdiction.

I. BACKGROUND

The Edwards Aquifer (Edwards) stores water in a natural underground reservoir that stretches through six counties in Central Texas. Rainfall seeps through porous earth to "recharge" Edwards all along its path, and the water in the aquifer flows eastward. Many governments, corporations, and individuals, including appellants, pump water from Edwards. Depending on the amount that recharge exceeds pumping, water leaves Edwards naturally at two large springs, San Marcos Springs and Comal Springs, situated approximately fifteen miles apart at the aquifer's eastern edge.

San Marcos Springs and dependent streams are home to four species listed by the federal government as "endangered" (the Fountain Darter, the Texas Blind Salamander, the San Marcos Gambusia (which may now be extinct), and Texas Wild Rice) and one listed as "threatened" (the San Marcos Salamander). See 50 C.F.R. §§ 17.11-.12 (1992). Comal Springs and dependent streams are the only other home worldwide to the Fountain Darter and the San Marcos Salamander. Until June 1993, Texas placed no restrictions on pumping from Edwards, so no guarantee existed that water for these species would come from San Marcos or Comal Springs although all of the species depend on water for their survival.

In May 1991, Sierra Club sued FWS, alleging that endangered species died when flow from the San Marcos and Comal Springs dropped below a certain number of cubic feet per second. Sierra Club asserted that FWS was responsible for the loss of these creatures under the ESA because FWS failed to develop and disseminate information about the minimum springflows necessary to protect the endangered species, and because FWS failed to exercise its authority under the ESA to impose pumping restrictions to maintain the necessary springflows. Several governmental entities who are interested in maximizing springflow from San Marcos and Comal Springs intervened as plaintiffs,*fn2 and an opposing set of governmental entities and private water users interested in preserving the right to pump Edwards water without limitation intervened as defendants.*fn3 Subsequently, Sierra Club and all plaintiff-intervenors amended their complaints to strike their claim that the ESA required FWS to regulate pumping from Edwards; but they continued to press their claim that the ESA requires FWS to determine the minimum springflows necessary to preserve the endangered species at San Marcos and Comal Springs.

Judge Bunton conducted a bench trial and issued comprehensive findings and Conclusions in February 1993. He concluded that FWS has a nondiscretionary duty under ESA § 4(f), 16 U.S.C. § 1533(f), to "develop and implement ... recovery plans" for endangered species, and that FWS neglected its section 4(f) duty with respect to the four endangered species at San Marcos and Comal Springs. He also held that FWS "took" Fountain Darters in violation of ESA § 9, 16 U.S.C. § 1538, by failing to promulgate springflow limits before droughts in 1989 and 1990. Based on these Conclusions, the district court enjoined FWS to develop and disseminate information about the springflows necessary to sustain the endangered species at San Marcos and Comal Springs. The court did not order further relief against FWS, nor did it order relief against anyone other than FWS.*fn4 This judgment satisfied the plaintiffs, but FWS and several defendant-intervenors appealed.

When Interior Secretary Babbitt replaced Interior Secretary Lujan, FWS changed its position in this case. FWS agreed to dismiss its appeal if the plaintiffs agreed to certain semantic changes in the district court's findings and judgment;*fn5 none of the changes affect the relief ordered against FWS. The plaintiffs joined FWS's Motion to Clarify the Judgment and Findings, the district court amended its findings and judgment to conform with the parties' motion, and FWS dismissed its appeal. However, several defendant-intervenors wish to continue their appeals.*fn6 The appellees argue that the appellants have no standing absent FWS, and that we have no jurisdiction to decide these appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

The Constitution's Article III limits the federal judiciary's decisional authority to "cases" and "controversies." A case or controversy does not exist unless the person who asks the court for a decision has "standing" to do so, the elements of which are injury, causation, and redressability. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, -- -- -- U.S. -- -- --, 112 S. Ct. 2130, 2136 (1992). A party's "status as an intervenor ... does not confer standing sufficient to keep the case alive in the absence of [the party on whose side the intervenor intervened]." Diamond v. Charles, 476 U.S. 54, 68, 106 S. Ct. 1697, 1706, 90 L. Ed. 2d 48 (1986). Rather, intervenors who wish to prosecute an appeal on their own must separately fulfill the injury, causation, and redressability requirements of Article III. Id.

Where standing to appeal is at issue, appellants must demonstrate some injury from the judgment below. See 15A CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT, ARTHUR R. MILLER & EDWARD H. COOPER, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE § 3902, at 63 (1992). The judgment here simply requires FWS to develop and disseminate springflow information based on the court's finding that ESA § 4(f) places a nondiscretionary duty on FWS to generate this information. In its judgment, the district court also makes "interim springflow findings for all purposes under the ESA" at which various endangered species are "taken" or "jeopardized" within the meaning of the ESA. Because these findings are irrelevant to whether FWS has a duty to develop and disseminate springflow information, they have no preclusive effect in future litigation. See Hicks v. Quaker Oats Co., 662 F.2d 1158, 1166 (5th Cir. 1981) (No issue can be precluded unless "the determination of the issue in the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.