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Sierra Club v. Coleman

Citation: 6 ELR 20051
No. No. 75-1040, 405 F. Supp. 53/8 ERC 1477/(D.D.C., 09/30/1975) Injunction issued

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is enjoined from proceeding with construction of the Darien Gap Highway through Panama and Columbia pending full compliance with the requirements of NEPA. The environmental impact assessment prepared by FHWA clearly does not meet the statutory requirements. The assessment was not circulated to the Environmental Protection Agency for comment, and it fails to discuss adequately either the possible transmission of foot-and-mouth disease along the completed highway or the environmental impact of possible alternatives to the route actually selected. In addition, the decision to build the highway in the chosen route was made well before the assessment was begun. Noting that the traditional requirements for equitable relief do not apply in cases where federal statutes have been violated, the court points out that the harm with which courts are concerned in NEPA cases is not, strictly speaking, damage to the environment, but rather the failure of agency decision makers to take environmental factors into account as NEPA mandates. Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction is granted.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Leonard C. Meeker
Center for Law and Social Policy
1751 N Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036

Counsel for Defendants
Irwin L. Schroeder
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530