United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Puget Soundkeeper Alliance,
Sierra Club, and Idaho Conservation League's
(collectively, the “proposed intervenors”) motion
to intervene (Dkt. No. 24) and motion for leave to file a
brief in opposition to Plaintiff's pending motion for a
preliminary injunction (Dkt. No. 27). Having thoroughly
considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record,
the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS
the motions for the reasons explained herein.
is a nonprofit trade organization operating in Washington on
behalf of the beef industry. (See Dkt. No. 1 at 3.)
In 2015, Defendants U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the
“EPA”) and Army Corps of Engineers (the
“Corps”) promulgated new regulations that changed
the definition of the term “navigable waters” in
the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), 33 U.S.C.
§§ 1362(7), 1363(12) (the “2015 Rule”).
(See id. at 8-10.) On April 16, 2019, Plaintiff
filed a complaint challenging the 2015 Rule. (See
generally id.) Plaintiff argues that the EPA and Corps
exceeded their regulatory authority in promulgating the 2015
Rule and denied Plaintiff its right to notice and comment,
and raises various constitutional challenges to the 2015
Rule. (See id. at 15-21.) Plaintiff seeks
declaratory relief finding the 2015 Rule invalid and an
injunction barring Defendants from enforcing the 2015 Rule.
(See id. at 21-22.) On June 14, 2019, Plaintiff
moved for a preliminary injunction, which is noted for the
Court's consideration on July 19, 2019. (Dkt. No. 15.)
Soundkeeper Alliance is a nonprofit corporation organized in
Washington with members situated throughout the Puget Sound
watershed, with the stated goal of protecting and preserving
the waters of Puget Sound. (Id. at 4.) The Sierra
Club is a nonprofit corporation organized in California, with
local chapters in various states. (Id. at 5.) The
Idaho Conservation League is a nonprofit corporation
organized in Idaho with members dedicated to protecting
Idaho's natural resources. (Id. at 5-6.) All
three proposed intervenors participated in the public comment
process for the 2015 Rule. (Id. at 4-6.)
25, 2019, the proposed intervenors moved to intervene in this
action. (Dkt. No. 24.) The next day, the proposed intervenors
filed a motion for leave to file an opposition brief to
Plaintiff's pending motion for a preliminary injunction.
(Dkt. No. 27.)
Motion to Intervene
Court, in its discretion, may grant permissive intervention
where the applicant “has a claim or defense that shares
with the main action a common question of law or fact”
and where intervention would not “unduly delay or
prejudice the adjudication of the original parties'
rights.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b)(1)(B), (b)(3). The Court
may consider factors including (1) “the nature and
extent of the intervenors' interest, ” (2) whether
existing parties adequately represent those interests, (3)
“the legal position [intervenors] seek to advance,
” and (4) “whether parties seeking intervention
will significantly contribute to full development of the
underlying factual issues in the suit and to the just and
equitable adjudication of the legal questions
presented.” Spangler v. Pasadena City Bd. of
Ed., 552 F.2d 1326, 1329 (9th Cir. 1977). “Rule 24
traditionally receives liberal construction in favor of
applicants for intervention.” Arakaki v.
Cayetano, 324 F.3d 1078, 1083 (9th Cir. 2003).
does not oppose Puget Soundkeeper Alliance's permissive
intervention into this lawsuit. (Dkt. No. 28 at
2-3.) Plaintiff does oppose the Sierra Club and
Idaho Conservation League's permissive intervention,
arguing that neither group has a significant protectable
interest in this litigation because Plaintiff's case is
limited to the application of the 2015 Rule in Washington.
(Id. at 4-8.) But the Sierra Club and Idaho
Conservation League have claims or defenses sounding in
common questions of law and fact as Plaintiff's claims in
this lawsuit-the authority of the EPA and the Corps to
promulgate the 2015 Rule and the proper scope of the 2015
Rule's definition of the term “navigable
waters” under the CWA. (See Dkt. Nos. 1; 24 at
8- 10, 13; 31 at 2-6.); Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b). Further,
discretionary factors weigh in favor of permissive
intervention, as the proposed intervenors' have
significant practical and litigation interests in this case,
have plausibly argued that the present Defendants may not
adequately represent their interests, and their participation
will contribute to the full development of the factual issues
and just adjudication of the legal questions presented by the
case. (See Dkt. Nos. 24 at 8-13, 31 at 2-6);
Spangler, 552 F.2d at 1329.
the permissive intervention of the proposed intervenors into
this case will not unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication
of Plaintiff's rights. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
24(b)(3). The lawsuit was filed in April 2019, and Plaintiff
moved for a preliminary injunction in June 2019. (Dkt. Nos.
1, 15.) Thus, the permissive intervention of the proposed
intervenors at this early stage in the lawsuit will not
unduly delay or prejudice the proceedings as a whole.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b)(3). Granting the proposed
intervenors sufficient time to respond to Plaintiff's
pending motion for a preliminary injunction will necessarily
delay the Court's consideration of the motion, as
Defendants' response was due on July 15, 2019 and the
motion is noted for the Court's consideration on July 19,
2019. (See Dkt. Nos. 15, 32.) But such delay is not
undue in light of the interests at stake in the litigation
and the history of the lawsuit, and Plaintiff has not
identified any prejudice that it will suffer as a result.
(See Dkt. No. 28 at 3-4.) Further, Plaintiff will be
granted additional time to fully respond to the proposed
intervenors' arguments, as discussed below, which further
alleviates any prejudice Plaintiff would otherwise suffer.
(See id. at 4; Dkt. No. 29 at 3.)
the Court finds that permissive intervention of the Puget
Soundkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, and the Idaho Conservation
League is appropriate, and the proposed intervenors'
motion to intervene (Dkt. No. 24) is GRANTED.
Motion to File Opposing Brief
proposed intervenors move for leave to file a brief in
opposition to Plaintiff's pending motion for a
preliminary injunction. (Dkt. No. 27.) Plaintiff filed its
motion for a preliminary injunction on June 14, 2019. (Dkt.
No. 15.) Defendants filed their response to the motion on
July 15, 2019. ...