July 26, 2012
D.C. judge is inclined to send CHAPA lawsuit to Boyle

By IRENE NOLAN


U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C., is inclined to send a lawsuit to overturn the National Park Service’s final off-road vehicle plan and regulation to U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

At a status conference by telephone with attorneys for all parties in the Cape Hatteras Preservation Alliance lawsuit against the National Park Service, Sullivan gave them until Aug. 6 to file any objections to the transfer.

The CHAPA complaint was filed Feb. 9 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It names as defendants Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, and Mike Murray,  superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Sullivan later allowed three environmental groups to enter the case as defendant-interveners.  The groups are the Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, and the National Parks Preservation Society. They are represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Today’s status conference was scheduled to discuss a timetable for admitting the government administrative history on the ORV rulemaking.

However, Sullivan said he is inclined to transfer the case sua sponte, which means by his own will or without request by any party.

Boyle is the judge who presided over the environmental groups lawsuit against the Park Service for its lack of an ORV plan to protect nesting birds and turtles.

That lawsuit resulted in a 2008 consent decree that closed more areas of the beach than ever before to protect resources.

The consent decree was to end when there was a final regulation.  The final rule went into effect on Feb. 15, but at a hearing shortly after that, Boyle kept the consent decree in place.

Boyle has a status conference planned for tomorrow, Friday, July 27, in Raleigh.

The Island Free Press will publish a story on that conference tomorrow evening.



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