Supreme Court Restricts Enviro Groups’ Ability to Sue Government

In a unanimous decision handed down yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an effort by enviro groups to force the federal Bureau of Land Management to more aggressively protect 2 million acres of “wilderness study areas” in Utah from damage by off-road vehicles. The decision, written by enviro bugbear Antonin Scalia, acknowledged the damage done by such vehicles but says Congress never envisioned “pervasive oversight by federal courts over the manner and pace of agency compliance.” The plaintiffs — backed by friend-of-the-court briefs from officials from 14 states and former federal environmental officials from the Nixon, Carter, and first Bush administrations — argued that broadly worded legal protections for wilderness will have no teeth without the threat of legal action by private groups. Off-road vehicle groups and officials from the Interior Department hailed the decision, which is expected to have broad implications for public-land protection.