Home » Case Summaries » 1995 » Public Service Co. of Colorado v. Batt


Public Service Co. of Colorado v. Batt



The Ninth Circuit held that the district court’s second order modifying an original injunction did not change the provisions of the injunction such that the Ninth Circuit had jurisdiction over an appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(1).

In June 1993, the district court granted the State of Idaho an injunction that enjoined the Department of Energy (DOE) from transporting, receiving, processing, or storing spent nuclear fuel in Idaho until a comprehensive environmental impact statement (EIS) was completed and reviewed, and any challenges to the EIS resolved. The injunction could be dissolved upon showing good cause. The district court modified the injunction in December 1993 to allow certain permitted emergency shipments. The December 1993 order provided that the injunction remain in full force and effect unless and until DOE issued a record of decision based on the EIS required by the June 1993 order.

DOE argued that the December 1993 order modified the June injunction so that DOE’s June 1995 Record of Decision terminated the injunction. Idaho, however, contended that DOE failed to assess the environmental impacts of its actions in good faith, and that the injunction should not be dissolved. In May 1995, the district court granted Idaho’s motion to reopen the proceedings because it found that the June 1993 injunction remained in effect until the EIS was completed, reviewed, and had all challenges against it resolved.

The Ninth Circuit dismissed DOE’s appeal and held that DOE’s interpretation would emasculate the injunction by allowing DOE to publish an EIS, however flawed, followed by a record of decision that would result in the dissolution of the injunction. Further, the court concluded that the December 1993 modification did not modify the provision for dissolution of the injunction upon a showing of good cause. Accordingly, the injunction was to remain in effect until the district court resolved Idaho’s challenge to the EIS and dissolved the injunction upon a showing of good cause.

Because the court found that the June 1993 injunction remained in force, and was not modified by the May 1995 order, it concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review the May 1995 order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(1). Judge Arthur Alarcon dissented, arguing that the December 1993 order changed the event that would terminate the life of the injunction and that the May 1995 order extended the injunction that was due to expire upon the termination event: DOE’s issuance of its record of decision. As a modification of an district court order, Alarcon concluded DOE had interlocutory review of the May 1995 order pursuant to the express language of 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(1).

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