AMOCO PRODUCTION CO. ET AL. v. VILLAGE OF GAMBELL ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
Argued January 12, 1987
Decided March 24, 1987 *
Section 810(a) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) provides, inter alia, that, before allowing the use, occupancy, or disposition of public lands that would significantly restrict Alaskan Natives' use of those lands for subsistence, the head of the federal agency having primary jurisdiction over the lands must give notice, conduct a hearing, and determine that the restriction of subsistence uses is necessary and that reasonable steps will be taken to minimize adverse impacts. Petitioner Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) granted oil and gas leases to petitioner oil companies off the Alaska coast under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). Claiming that the Secretary had failed to comply with 810(a), respondents, two Alaska Native villages and a Native organization, sought injunctions to, inter alia, prohibit exploratory drilling under the leases. The District Court held that ANILCA applies to the OCS. It denied respondents' motions for preliminary injunctions, ruling that, although respondents had established a strong likelihood of success on the merits, injunctive relief was inappropriate because the balance of irreparable harm did not favor them, and the public interest favored continued oil exploration, which would not cause the type of harm - a restriction in subsistence uses or resources - that ANILCA was designed to prevent. The Court of Appeals affirmed the holding that ANILCA applies to the OCS but reversed the District Court's denial of a preliminary injunction. The court held, inter alia, that irreparable damage is presumed when an agency fails to evaluate thoroughly the environmental impact of a proposed action, and that injunctive relief is the appropriate remedy for a violation of an environmental statute absent rare or unusual circumstances.
WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined, and in Parts I and III of which STEVENS and SCALIA, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which SCALIA, J., joined, post, p. 555.
[ Footnote * ] Together with No. 85-1406, Hodel, Secretary of the Interior, et al. v. Village of Gambell et al., also on certiorari to the same court.
Assistant Attorney General Habicht argued the cause for petitioners in No. 85-1406. With him on the briefs were Solicitor General Fried, Deputy Solicitor General Wallace, Richard J. Lazarus, Anne S. Almy, Jacques B. Gelin, David C. Shilton, and Ralph W. Tarr. E. Edward Bruce argued the cause for petitioners in No. 85-1239. With him on the briefs were Brice M. Clagett, Bobby R. Burchfield, and Carl J. D. Bauman.
Donald S. Cooper argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief was Carol H. Daniel.Fn
Fn [480 U.S. 531, 533] Alvin J. Ziontz filed a brief for North Slope Borough et al. as amici curiae urging reversal.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the State of Alaska by Harold M. Brown, Attorney General, and Deborah Vogt, Assistant Attorney General; for the State of California ex rel. Van de Kamp et al. by John K. Van de Kamp, Attorney General of California, Theodora Berger, Assistant Attorney General, Ken Alex, Deputy Attorney General, Fred Silverman, Solicitor of Delaware, Jim Smith, Attorney General of Florida, Corinne K. A. Watanabe, Attorney General of Hawaii, Robert T. [480 U.S. 531, 534] Stephan, Attorney General of Kansas, Paul Bardacke, Attorney General of New Mexico, Michael C. Turpen, Attorney General of Oklahoma, T. Travis Medlock, Attorney General of South Carolina, Jim Mattox, Attorney General of Texas, Mary Sue Terry, Attorney General of Virginia, and Bronson C. La Follette, Attorney General of Wisconsin; and for the Natural Resources Defense Council et al. by Larry Silver and Michael Axline.
Ronald A. Zumbrun and Robin L. Rivett filed a brief for the Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc., et al. as amici curiae. [480 U.S. 531, 534]
JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner Secretary of the Interior granted oil and gas leases to petitioner oil companies in the Norton Sound (Lease Sale 57) and Navarin Basin (Lease Sale 83) areas of the Bering Sea under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), 67 Stat. 462, as amended, 43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq. (1982 ed. and Supp. III). The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit directed the entry of a preliminary injunction against all activity in connection with the leases because it concluded that it was likely that the Secretary had failed to comply with 810 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), 94 Stat. 2371, 16 U.S.C. 3120, prior to issuing the leases. We granted certiorari, 476 U.S. 1157 , and we now reverse. 1 [480 U.S. 531, 535]
When the Secretary of the Interior proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lease Sale 57, the Alaska Native villages of Gambell and Stebbins sought to enjoin him from proceeding with the sale, claiming that it would adversely affect their aboriginal rights to hunt and fish on the OCS and that the Secretary had failed to comply with ANILCA 810(a), 16 U.S.C. 3120(a), which provides protection for natural resources used for subsistence in Alaska. 2 The District Court denied their motion for a preliminary injunction and thereafter granted summary judgment in favor of the Secretary and oil company intervenors, holding that the villagers had [480 U.S. 531, 536] no aboriginal rights on the OCS and that ANILCA did not apply to the OCS. 3
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court's ruling on aboriginal rights, although on different grounds, and reversed the ruling on the scope of ANILCA 810. People of Gambell v. Clark, 746 F.2d 572 (1984) (Gambell I). With respect to the claim of aboriginal rights, the court assumed without deciding that the villagers once had aboriginal rights to hunt and fish in the Norton Sound, 4 but concluded that these rights had been extinguished by 4(b) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), 85 Stat. 690, 43 U.S.C. 1603(b). That section provides:
In compliance with the Court of Appeals' decision, the Secretary prepared a postsale evaluation of possible impacts on subsistence uses from Lease Sale 57. 6 The Secretary found [480 U.S. 531, 539] that the execution of the leases, which permitted lessees to conduct only limited preliminary activities on the OCS, had not and would not significantly restrict subsistence uses. He further found that the exploration stage activities, including seismic activities and exploratory drilling, that had occurred in Norton Sound had not significantly restricted subsistence uses and were not likely to do so in the future. Finally, he found that, if development and production activities were ever conducted, which was not likely, they might, in the event of a major oilspill, significantly restrict subsistence uses for limited periods in limited areas. 7
In April 1985, the villages sought a preliminary injunction in the District Court against exploratory activities in Norton Sound. At the same time, the village of Gambell, joined by Nunam Kitlutsisti, an organization of Yukon Delta Natives, filed a complaint seeking to void Lease Sale 83 and to enjoin imminent exploratory drilling in the Navarin Basin. The District Court consolidated the motions for preliminary injunctions and denied them. It found that respondents had established a strong likelihood of success on the merits. Although the Secretary, in the EIS's for the Five Year Leasing Plan and for the Norton Sound and Navarin Basin Lease Sales, had evaluated in some detail the effect of OCS oil and [480 U.S. 531, 540] gas development on subsistence resources and had considered alternatives which would reduce or eliminate the impact on these resources, the Secretary failed to comply with ANILCA because "he did not have the policy precepts of ANILCA in mind at the time of evaluation." App. to Pet. for Cert. in No. 85-1239, pp. 57a-58a. And with respect to the postsale evaluation for Lease Sale 57, the District Court concluded that because development and production activities, if they ever occurred, could significantly restrict subsistence uses in certain areas, the Secretary was required to conduct the hearing and make the findings required by 810(a)(1)-(3) prior to conducting the lease sale. Nevertheless, the court concluded that injunctive relief was not appropriate based on the following findings:
Respondents appealed from the District Court's denial of a preliminary injunction. The Ninth Circuit reversed. People of Gambell v. Hodel, 774 F.2d 1414 (1985) [480 U.S. 531, 541] (Gambell II). The court, agreeing that the villages had established a strong likelihood of success on the merits, concluded that the District Court had not properly balanced irreparable harm and had not properly evaluated the public interest. Relying on its earlier decision in Save Our Ecosystems v. Clark, 747 F.2d 1240, 1250 (1984), the court stated: "`Irreparable damage is presumed when an agency fails to evaluate thoroughly the environmental impact of a proposed action.'" 774 F.2d, at 1423. It ruled that "injunctive relief is the appropriate remedy for a violation of an environmental statute absent rare or unusual circumstances." Ibid. "Unusual circumstances" are those in which an injunction would interfere with a long-term contractual relationship, Forelaws on Board v. Johnson, 743 F.2d 677 (CA9 1984), or would result in irreparable harm to the environment, American Motorcyclist Assn. v. Watt, 714 F.2d 962, 966 (CA9 1983). 774 F.2d, at 1423-1425. The court found no such circumstances in the instant case. The Ninth Circuit also concluded that the policy declared in OCSLA to expedite exploration of the OCS had been superseded by ANILCA's policy to preserve the subsistence culture of Alaska Natives. Finally, the court rejected arguments that it was improper to apply Gambell I retroactively to Lease Sale 83.
Petitioners assert that the Ninth Circuit erred in directing the grant of a preliminary injunction. We addressed a similar contention in Weinberger v. Romero-Barcelo, 456 U.S. 305 (1982). The District Court in that case found that the Navy had violated the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq. (1982 ed. and Supp. III), by discharging ordnance into the sea without a permit. 456 U.S., at 307 -308. The court ordered the Navy to apply for a permit but refused to enjoin weapons-training operations during the application process because the Navy's "technical violations" were not causing any "appreciable harm" to the [480 U.S. 531, 542] quality of the water and an injunction would cause grievous harm to the Navy's military preparedness and therefore to the Nation. Id., at 309-310. The First Circuit reversed and directed the District Court to enjoin all Navy activities until it obtained a permit, concluding that the traditional equitable balancing of competing interests was inappropriate where there was an absolute statutory duty to obtain a permit. Id., at 310-311. We reversed, acknowledging at the outset the fundamental principle that an injunction is an equitable remedy that does not issue as of course. Id., at 311. We reviewed the well-established principles governing the award of equitable relief in federal courts. Id., at 311-313. In brief, the bases for injunctive relief are irreparable injury and inadequacy of legal remedies. In each case, a court must balance the competing claims of injury and must consider the effect on each party of the granting or withholding of the requested relief. Although particular regard should be given to the public interest, "[t]he grant of jurisdiction to ensure compliance with a statute hardly suggests an absolute duty to do so under any and all circumstances, and a federal judge sitting as chancellor is not mechanically obligated to grant an injunction for every violation of law." Id., at 313. Finally, we stated:
We see nothing which distinguishes Romero-Barcelo from the instant case. The purpose of ANILCA 810 is to protect Alaskan subsistence resources from unnecessary destruction. Section 810 does not prohibit all federal land use actions which would adversely affect subsistence resources but sets forth a procedure through which such effects must be considered and provides that actions which would significantly restrict subsistence uses can only be undertaken if they are necessary and if the adverse effects are minimized. There is no clear indication in 810 that Congress intended to deny federal district courts their traditional equitable discretion in enforcing the provision, nor are we compelled to infer such a limitation. Like the First Circuit in Romero-Barcelo, the Ninth Circuit erroneously focused on the statutory procedure rather than on the underlying substantive policy the process was designed to effect - preservation of subsistence resources. The District Court's refusal to issue a preliminary injunction against all exploration activities did not undermine this policy. The District Court, after reviewing the EIS's for the Secretary's Five Year Leasing Plan and for Lease Sales 57 and 83, as well as the 810 study prepared after Gambell I, expressly found that exploration activities would not significantly restrict subsistence uses. 10 The Court of Appeals did not conclude that this factual finding was clearly erroneous. The District Court also found that "the Secretary continues to possess power to control and shape the off-shore leasing process," App. to Pet. for Cert. in No. 85-1239, p. 63a, referring to the four distinct stages under OCSLA, particularly the requirement for secretarial approval of a development and production plan, 43 U.S.C. 1351. See n. 6, supra. The Court of Appeals did not dispute that the Secretary could meaningfully comply with ANILCA 810 in conjunction with his review of production and development plans. Instead, the court stated that "[i]rreparable damage [480 U.S. 531, 545] is presumed when an agency fails to evaluate thoroughly the environmental impact of a proposed action." 774 F.2d, at 1423 (emphasis added). This presumption is contrary to traditional equitable principles and has no basis in ANILCA. Moreover, the environment can be fully protected without this presumption. Environmental injury, by its nature, can seldom be adequately remedied by money damages and is often permanent or at least of long duration, i. e., irreparable. If such injury is sufficiently likely, therefore, the balance of harms will usually favor the issuance of an injunction to protect the environment. Here, however, injury to subsistence resources from exploration was not at all probable. And on the other side of the balance of harms was the fact that the oil company petitioners had committed approximately $70 million to exploration to be conducted during the summer of 1985 which they would have lost without chance of recovery had exploration been enjoined. Id., at 1430.
We acknowledged in Romero-Barcelo the important role of the "public interest" in the exercise of equitable discretion. The District Court concluded that the public interest in this case favored continued oil exploration, given OCSLA's stated policy 11 and the fact that "such exploration will not cause the type of harm, a restriction in subsistence uses or resources, that ANILCA was designed to prevent." App. to Pet. for Cert. in No. 85-1239, p. 63a. The Court of Appeals concluded, however, that the public interest favored injunctive relief because the interests served by federal environmental statutes, such as ANILCA, supersede all other interests that might be at stake. We do not read ANILCA to have repealed OCSLA. Congress clearly did not state in ANILCA [480 U.S. 531, 546] that subsistence uses are always more important than development of energy resources, or other uses of federal lands; rather, it expressly declared that preservation of subsistence resources is a public interest and established a framework for reconciliation, where possible, of competing public interests. 12
Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit erred in directing the issuance of a preliminary injunction.
Petitioners also contend that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that ANILCA 810 applies to the OCS. We agree. By its plain language, that provision imposes obligations on federal agencies with respect to decisions affecting use of federal lands within the boundaries of the State of Alaska. Section 810 applies to "public lands." Section 102 of ANILCA, 16 U.S.C. 3102, defines "public lands," and included terms, for purposes of the Act 13 as follows:
Nothing in the language or structure of ANILCA compels the conclusion that "in Alaska" means something other than "in the State of Alaska." The subsistence-protection provisions of the statute must be viewed in the context of the Act as a whole. 16 ANILCA's primary purpose was to complete the allocation of federal lands in the State of Alaska, 17 a process begun with the Statehood Act in 1958 and continued in 1971 in ANCSA. 18 To this end, it provided for additions to [480 U.S. 531, 550] the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System, National Forest System, National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and National Wilderness Preservation System, and also provided for the establishment of a National Conservation Area and National Recreation Area, within the State of Alaska. Titles II-VII, 94 Stat. 2377-2422. The Act also provided means to facilitate and expedite the conveyance of federal lands within the State to the State of Alaska under the Statehood Act and to Alaska Natives under ANCSA. Titles IX and XIV, 94 Stat. 2430-2448, 2491-2549. The remaining federal lands within the State were left available for resource development and disposition under the public land laws. The other provisions of ANILCA have no express applicability to the OCS and need not be extended beyond the State of Alaska in order to effectuate their apparent purposes. 19 It is difficult to believe that Congress intended the subsistence protection provisions of Title VIII, alone among all the provisions in the Act, to apply to the OCS. It is particularly implausible because the same definition of "public lands" which defines the scope of Title VIII applies as well to [480 U.S. 531, 551] the rest of the statute (with the exceptions noted at n. 13, supra).
There is a lone reference to the OCS in the statute, in 1001(a), 16 U.S.C. 3141(a), and it is for the purpose of ensuring that the provision does not apply to the OCS. 20 Section 1001 provides for a study of oil and gas resources, wilderness characteristics, and wildlife resources of the "North Slope":
Title VIII itself suggests that it does not apply to the OCS. Section 810 places the duty to perform a subsistence evaluation on "the head of the Federal agency having primary jurisdiction over such lands." Unlike onshore lands, no federal agency has "primary jurisdiction" over the OCS; agency jurisdiction turns on the particular activity at issue. See G. Coggins & C. Wilkinson, Federal Public Land and Resources Law 434 (1981).
The similarity between the language of ANILCA and its predecessor statutes, the Statehood Act and ANCSA, also refutes the contention that Congress intended "Alaska" to include the OCS. In the Statehood Act, Congress provided that the State of Alaska could select over 100 million acres from the vacant and unreserved "public lands of the United States in Alaska" within 25 years of its admission. Statehood Act 6(b), 72 Stat. 340. Similarly, in ANCSA, Congress allowed Native Alaskans to select approximately 40 million acres of "Federal lands and interests therein located in Alaska," with the exception of federal installations and land selections of the State of Alaska under the Statehood Act. 43 U.S.C. 1602(e), 1610(a), 1611. We agree with the Secretary that "[i]t is inconceivable that Congress intended to allow either the State of Alaska or Native Alaskans to select portions of the OCS - `a vital national resource reserve held by the [government] for the public' (43 U.S.C. 1332(3))." Brief for Petitioners in No. 85-1406, p. 33. Clearly, the purpose of these provisions was to apportion the land within the boundaries of the State of Alaska. The nearly identical language in ANILCA strongly suggests a similar scope for that statute.
When statutory language is plain, and nothing in the Act's structure or relationship to other statutes calls into question [480 U.S. 531, 553] this plain meaning, that is ordinarily "the end of the matter." Chevron U.S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 842 (1984). "Going behind the plain language of a statute in search of a possibly contrary congressional intent is a step to be taken cautiously even under the best of circumstances." United States v. Locke, 471 U.S., at 95 -96 (internal quotations omitted). ANILCA's legislative history does not evidence a congressional intent contrary to our reading of the statutory language. Significantly, the legislative history nowhere expressly indicates that the subsistence provisions apply to the OCS. The Ninth Circuit relied on a number of remarks made during the floor debates which were not specifically addressed to the scope of ANILCA in general or the subsistence provisions in particular. 746 F.2d, at 579. The central issue of the floor debates was the appropriate balance between exploitation of natural resources, particularly energy resources, and dedication of land to conservation units. A number of Congressmen addressed the amount of oil expected to be recovered from the OCS offshore of Alaska in the context of this balancing and, in doing so, referred to "Alaska" in a manner which included the OCS. Representative Udall, Chairman of the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, and floor manager of the bill, for example, sought to assure Members that the bill he favored did not inordinately restrict energy development:
Finally, we reject the Ninth Circuit's reliance on the familiar rule of statutory construction that doubtful expressions must be resolved in favor of Indians. 746 F.2d, at 581. There is no ambiguity here which requires interpretation. "The canon of construction regarding the resolution of ambiguities . . . does not permit reliance on ambiguities that do not exist; nor does it permit disregard of the clearly expressed intent of Congress." South Carolina v. Catawba Indian Tribe, 476 U.S. 498, 506 (1986).
The judgment of the Ninth Circuit with respect to the entry of a preliminary injunction and the applicability of ANILCA 810 to the OCS is reversed. We do not decide here the scope of ANCSA 4(b). Respondents' cross-petition on this issue, No. 85-1608, is granted, the Court of Appeals' judgment that 4(b) extinguished aboriginal rights on the OCS is vacated, and this question is remanded to the Court of Appeals for decision in light of this opinion.
[ Footnote 2 ] Section 810(a), 16 U.S.C. 3120(a), provides:
[ Footnote 3 ] The villages appealed and moved to enjoin the issuance of the leases pending appeal. The Ninth Circuit denied the motion and on May 10, 1983, 59 tracts were leased for bonus payments totaling over $300 million. While the appeal was pending, the Secretary approved exploration plans submitted by the lessees under 43 U.S.C. 1340 (1982 ed. and Supp. III) and they proceeded with exploration during the summer of 1984. The Secretary also proceeded with Lease Sale 83 on April 17, 1984, which resulted in the leasing of 163 tracts for total bonus payments of over $500 million.
[ Footnote 4 ] As explained by the Ninth Circuit, "[a]boriginal title or right is a right of exclusive use and occupancy held by Natives in lands and waters used by them and their ancestors prior to the assertion of sovereignty over such areas by the United States." 746 F.2d, at 574. See Oneida Indian Nation v. County of Oneida, 414 U.S. 661, 667 -669 (1974); see also F. Cohen, Handbook of Federal Indian Law 486-493 (1982).
[ Footnote 5 ] The Coastal Zone Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq. (1982 ed. and Supp. III), Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act, 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq. (1982 ed. and Supp. III), Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq. (1982 ed. and Supp. III), Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. (1982 ed. and Supp. III), Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq. (1982 ed. and Supp. III), and National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4331 et seq. (1982 ed. and Supp. III), all apply to activities on the OCS. Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Department of the Interior drafted in 1982 a 332-page Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on proposed Lease Sale 57. Interior analyzed in the EIS the effects that the lease sale, and subsequent exploration, development, and production, could conceivably have on "subsistence uses," as defined by ANILCA 803, 16 U.S.C. 3113. The EIS documented the fish and shellfish, sea mammal, bird, and land animal resources utilized by the villages in the region, including Gambell and Stebbins, and analyzed the sensitivity of these resources to oilspills, other exploration and development impacts, and harvest pressure. EIS 47-53, 136-148. The EIS also considered the sociocultural impact of changes in the availability of subsistence resources. Interior concluded as follows:
[ Footnote 6 ] As we explained in Secretary of Interior v. California, 464 U.S., at 337 , there are four distinct statutory stages to developing an oil well on the OCS: "(1) formulation of a 5-year leasing plan by the Department of the Interior; (2) lease sales; (3) exploration by the lessees; (4) development and [480 U.S. 531, 539] production. Each stage involves separate regulatory review that may, but need not, conclude in the transfer to lease purchasers of rights to conduct additional activities on the OCS." The Secretary examined the effects on subsistence uses of Lease Sale 57 itself, present and future exploratory activities, and development and production activities, which the Secretary estimated had a 13% probability of being undertaken. App. to Pet. for Cert. in No. 85-1406, pp. 81a-106a. The Secretary stressed that a definite evaluation with respect to the latter stage could only be made if and when plans for development and production were submitted and that a separate 810 evaluation would be prepared at that time. The Secretary relied to a considerable degree on the 1982 Final EIS.
[ Footnote 7 ] The Secretary approved exploration plans for the Navarin Basin after the decision in Gambell I and accordingly made explicit ANILCA evaluations. See App. to Pet. for Cert. in No. 85-1406, pp. 107a-115a. The lessees planned exploration activities for the summer of 1985.
[ Footnote 8 ] We noted that, in addition to a court order to apply for a permit, the FWPCA could be enforced through fines and criminal penalties, 33 U.S.C. 1319(c) and (d). 456 U.S., at 314 . The Ninth Circuit believed that the absence of such enforcement provisions in ANILCA distinguished the FWPCA and Romero-Barcelo. 774 F.2d, at 1426, n. 2. It stated that the injunctive relief it granted was the only means of insuring compliance under 810. The Court of Appeals was incorrect. Here, as in Romero-Barcelo, compliance could be obtained through the simple means of an order to the responsible federal official to comply. The Secretary had not complied with 810 only because he interpreted ANILCA not to apply to the OCS.
[ Footnote 9 ] We distinguished TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 (1978), in which we had held that Congress, in the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 87 Stat. 884, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq. (1982 ed. and Supp. III), had foreclosed the traditional discretion possessed by an equity court and had required the District Court to enjoin completion of the Tellico Dam in order to preserve the snail darter, an endangered species. That statute contains a flat ban on destruction of critical habitats of endangered species and it was conceded that completion of the dam would destroy the critical habitat of the snail darter. We stated:
[ Footnote 10 ] Implicit in this finding was the finding that the lease-sale stage had not significantly restricted subsistence uses.
[ Footnote 11 ] OCSLA declares it to be the policy of the United States that "the outer Continental Shelf is a vital national resource reserve held by the Federal Government for the public, which should be made available for expeditious and orderly development, subject to environmental safeguards, in a manner which is consistent with the maintenance of competition and other national needs." 43 U.S.C. 1332(3).
[ Footnote 12 ] Finally, the Ninth Circuit distinguished Romero-Barcelo on the ground that the District Court in that case refused to issue a permanent injunction after a trial on the merits whereas in this case the District Court denied preliminary injunctive relief. We fail to grasp the significance of this distinction. The standard for a preliminary injunction is essentially the same as for a permanent injunction with the exception that the plaintiff must show a likelihood of success on the merits rather than actual success. See, e. g., University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 392 (1981). Despite the preliminary nature of the proceeding, the record before the District Court was complete enough to allow it to decide that exploration activities would not significantly restrict subsistence resources. The fact that, on another record, such a conclusion could not be made with any degree of confidence is a factor to be considered under the traditional equitable balancing of interests but hardly suggests that the balancing test itself must be abandoned.
[ Footnote 13 ] Section 102 provides that the definitions apply to the entire Act, except that in Title IX, which provides for implementation of ANCSA and the Alaska Statehood Act, 72 Stat. 339, and in Title XIV, which amends ANCSA and related provisions, the terms shall have the same meaning as they have in ANCSA and the Alaska Statehood Act.
[ Footnote 14 ] The Ninth Circuit stated: "In strikingly similar circumstances, the Supreme Court has twice given an expansive and non-technical interpretation to geographical terms to achieve Congress's apparent purpose to protect native fisheries. Hynes v. Grimes Packing Co., 337 U.S. 86, 110 -116 . . . (1949); Alaska Pacific Fisheries v. United States, 248 U.S. 78, 89 . . . (1918)." 746 F.2d, at 580. The question in Alaska Pacific Fisheries was the geographic scope of "the body of lands known as Annette [480 U.S. 531, 548] Islands," the reservation of the Metlakahtla Indians, in particular: whether the reservation embraced only the uplands or included the intervening and surrounding waters. Similarly, the issue in Hynes was whether the phrase "any other public lands which are actually occupied by Indians or Eskimos within said Territory" authorized the Secretary of the Interior to include in the Karluk Reservation the waters to a distance of 3,000 feet from the shore. 337 U.S., at 91 , 92. In both cases, we concluded that, in light of the purposes of the reservations, the phrases were properly interpreted to include a band of adjacent waters. These cases clearly are inapposite. Unlike "Alaska," the phrases in issue did not have precise geographic/political meanings which would have been commonly understood, without further inquiry, to exclude the waters. There is no plain meaning to "the body of lands" of an island group, 248 U.S., at 89 , and clearly none to "public lands which are actually occupied by Indians or Eskimos." The meaning of the phrases had to be derived from their context in the statutes.
[ Footnote 15 ] Petitioners also assert that the OCS plainly is not "Federal land" because the United States does not claim "title" to the OCS. See ANILCA 102(2), 16 U.S.C. 3102(2). The United States may not hold "title" to the submerged lands of the OCS, but we hesitate to conclude that the United States does not have "title" to any "interests therein." Certainly, [480 U.S. 531, 549] it is not clear that Congress intended to exclude the OCS by defining public lands as "lands, waters, and interests therein" "the title to which is in the United States." We also reject the assertion that the phrase "public lands," in and of itself, has a precise meaning, without reference to a definitional section or its context in a statute. See Hynes v. Grimes Packing Co., 337 U.S., at 114 -116.
[ Footnote 16 ] ANILCA is comprised of 15 titles and spans 181 pages of the Statutes at Large, 94 Stat. 2371-2551. The subsistence protection provisions are contained in Title VIII. 94 Stat. 2422-2430, 16 U.S.C. 3111-3126.
[ Footnote 17 ] Congress clearly articulated this purpose:
[ Footnote 18 ] The House Report declared the following to be the purpose of the bill:
[ Footnote 19 ] Title I sets forth the Act's purposes and definitions. Titles X and XV pertain to mineral resources. Title XI governs transportation and utility systems in and across, and access into, conservation system units, Title XII provides for federal-state cooperation, and Title XIII contains miscellaneous administrative provisions.
[ Footnote 20 ] The Ninth Circuit relied on this provision in support of its conclusion that the phrase "in Alaska" is ambiguous and can be read to include the OCS. See 746 F.2d, at 575.
[ Footnote 21 ] See also 125 Cong. Rec. 9893 (1979) (remarks of Rep. Vento) ("[The Udall-Anderson bill] provides for the potential exploration and development of approximately 95 percent of the onshore areas which have either high or favorable potential for oil and gas and 100 percent of the offshore potential sites, which . . . comprises two-thirds of Alaska's oil potential"); id., at 9907 (remarks of Rep. Young) ("I will tell the Members this: The person who supports offshore drilling in Alaska first over onshore drilling is doing a great disservice to the environment"); id., at 11174 (remarks of Rep. Huckaby) ("Alaska's offshore oil potential is estimated to be some 16 to 25 billion barrels").
[ Footnote 22 ] See also 126 Cong. Rec. 21889 (1980) (remarks of Sen. Bayh) ("100 percent of the offshore sites would remain available to exploration"); id., at 21657 (remarks of Sen. Cranston) (same); id., at 18747 (remarks of Sen. Hart) ("[M]ost of Alaska's undiscovered oil and gas lies offshore, and so would not be affected by these land designations"); 125 Cong. Rec. 11450 (1979) (remarks of Rep. Kostmayer) ("Two hundred and five million acres offshore are untouched by the Udall-Anderson bill").
The Ninth Circuit also relied on the fact that ANILCA's subsistence provisions, as finally enacted, cover all federal lands in Alaska and that its saving clause, 16 U.S.C. 3125, specifies that the subsistence provisions do not affect the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act (FCMA), 90 Stat. 331, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. (1982 ed. and Supp. III). 746 F.2d, at 581. Under the FCMA, the United States asserts exclusive [480 U.S. 531, 555] fishery management authority in the fishery conservation zone which commences at the boundary of the coastal States and extends 200 miles from the coast. 16 U.S.C. 1811, 1812(1). According to the Court of Appeals, the inclusion of the FCMA in the saving clause indicates that ANILCA applies to the OCS. However, the FCMA also applies to "anadromous species throughout the migratory range of each such species beyond the fishery conservation zone," which would include waters within the State of Alaska. 16 U.S.C. 1812(2). Thus, there is no need to interpret "Alaska" to include the OCS in order to give meaning to the FCMA's inclusion in the saving clause.
JUSTICE STEVENS, with whom JUSTICE SCALIA joins, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
Given the Court's holding that 810 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), 94 Stat. 2371, 16 U.S.C. 3120, does not apply to the Outer Continental Shelf, it is unnecessary to decide whether the Court of Appeals applied the proper standard in determining the [480 U.S. 531, 556] availability of injunctive relief. * Accordingly, I join only Parts I and III of the Court's opinion.
[ Footnote * ] Indeed, the Court itself recognizes this when it declines to reach two additional questions that were presented in the petition. See ante, at 534-535, n. 1. This is not a case in which discussion of a nonessential issue is arguably appropriate because the lower court is likely to employ the identical legal analysis on remand. Even if, in light of the decisions in this case and the cross-petition, the Court of Appeals finds that respondents retain aboriginal rights in the Outer Continental Shelf, it would apparently not apply the same injunctive relief standard that it applied with relation to ANILCA. The special injunctive standard applied to the ANILCA claim was based on Circuit precedent providing that, absent unusual circumstances, "[a]n injunction is the appropriate remedy for a substantive procedural violation of an environmental statute." People of Gambell v. Hodel, 774 F.2d 1414, 1422 (1985) (emphasis added). See generally Save Our Ecosystems v. Clark, 747 F.2d 1240, 1250 (CA9 1984). There is no reason to believe that this rule would be extended to injunctions designed to prevent interference with aboriginal rights. [480 U.S. 531, 557]