Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Indians v. U.S. Department of the Navy
898 F.2d 1410 (9th Cir. 1990))

  • The Navy instituted an irrigation project on a base near the Truckee River.
    • The project used a lot of water that would otherwise have been available downriver.
  • Local environmental groups (led by the Paiute) sued for an injunction.
    • The Paiute argued that the irrigation plan was inefficient, and the loss of water could affect endangered fish in Pyramid Lake.
    • The Paiute argued that was a violation of the Endangered Species Act 7.
  • The Trial Court found for the Navy. The Paiute appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that while 7(a)(1) imposes an affirmative duty on non-Interior Federal agencies to use their authority to conserve endangered species, that duty does not rise to the level of duty imposed upon the Interior Department.
    • The Court held that non-Interior agencies are entitled to "some discretion."
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • The Appellate Court found that the Navy was not required to use the 'least burdensome alternative'.
  • Compare to Sierra Club v. Glickman (156 F.3d 606 (1998)), which came to the opposite decision.