June 23, 2019

Tenth Circuit: Dismissal of Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Affirmed Because Claims Were Not Yet Ripe

The Tenth Circuit published its opinion in Los Alamos Study Group v. US Department of Energy on August 27, 2012.

Plaintiff Los Alamos Study Group filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Defendants were the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the United States Department of Energy (DOE), and the DOE secretary. The complaint alleged that the design proposed for construction of a nuclear facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory had changed so much since the original environmental analysis that a new analysis was required and that all work on the facility should be halted until the conclusion of such analysis.

The district court dismissed the claims on two grounds: (1) that the case was not yet ripe because agency action (the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)) was ongoing when the complaint was filed; and (2) that the plaintiff’s claims were prudentially moot because Defendants refrained from all construction on the Nuclear Facility until the SEIS analysis was complete. The Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court on the ripeness issue, and therefore did not need to address mootness.



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