April 14, 2014
Contacts: Tina Walker
Counsel for Drakes Bay Oyster
Drakes Bay Oyster Files Petition for Writ of Certiorari in U.S. Supreme Court
Petition asks high court to review Ninth Circuit decision
INVERNESS, CALIF. — Drakes Bay Oyster Company has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in its case.
At issue is former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s denial of Drakes Bay’s permit to continue operating the 80-year-old oyster farm, even though the original deal for the creation of Point Reyes National Seashore—supported by the Park Service, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, and every other interested environmental and civic group—was that the oyster farm was always supposed to stay. The Ninth Circuit held that a federal court does not have jurisdiction to review a discretionary agency decision for abuse of discretion. At stake is whether the government, in making countless everyday decisions, can be taken to court when it abuses its power.
“If this judgment is not overturned, government agencies will have the power to deny a permit to any individual or business for any reason, without judicial review,” said Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. “Citizens must have recourse in the face of an arbitrary and capricious decision.”
The small, family-owned farm has been in a heated legal battle with federal regulators for its survival. Because Drakes Bay showed that there is a “reasonable probability” that the Supreme Court will take this case and a “significant possibility” that the oyster farm will win, the Ninth Circuit has allowed Drakes Bay to remain open while it takes its case to the Supreme Court.
One reason the Supreme Court might want to hear the case is to resolve fifteen circuit splits on three issues—that is, issues on which two or more circuits in the U.S. court of appeals system have given different interpretations of federal law. The splits in this case are on important issues: jurisdiction to review agency actions for abuse of discretion, applicability of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and prejudicial error under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Read the Petition for Writ of Certiorarihere.
About Drakes Bay Oyster Company
The historic oyster farm in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the community for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation Point Reyes ranching family, purchased the oyster farm in 2004. Modern environmentalists and proponents of sustainable agriculture praise Drakes Bay Oyster as a superb example of how people can produce high-quality food in harmony with the environment. The farm produces approximately one third of all oysters grown in California, and employs 30 members of the community. The Lunnys also contribute the oyster shells that make possible the restoration of native oysters in San Francisco Bay and the oyster shells used to create habitat for the endangered Snowy Plover and Least Tern. As the last oyster cannery in California, Drakes Bay is the only local (and thus the only safe and affordable) source of these shells. The Lunny family is proud of its contributions to a sustainable food model that conserves and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.com and www.savedrakesbay.com