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Conservation Soc'y of S. Vt. v. Secretary of Transp.

Citation: 5 ELR 20068
No. Nos. 73-2629 et al., 508 F.2d 927/7 ERC 1236/(2d Cir., 12/11/1974) Aff'd

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Federal Highway Administration must prepare its own NEPA impact statements on federally-funded highway projects, rather than delegate the task to state agencies. It thereby reaffirms its 1972 decision in Greene County Planning Board v. FPC, despite contrary holdings from the five other circuits to consider the issue. The court upholds an injunction against further work on a 20-mile segment of U.S. Route 7 between Bennington and Manchester, Vermont, pending completion of an impact statement on the entire 280-mile Route 7 corridor. Though there is no existing federal plan for the three-state superhighway, development of the road is a goal of all three state highway departments involved. Since federal officials are aware of the state plans, and federal financial assistance for highway planning is furnished to the states, the FHWA is in effect a partner of the states in developing the entire 280-mile road.

In a companion case, Vermont Natural Resources Council v. Brinegar, the circuit court affirms the district court's refusal to enjoin construction of the Sleepers River Interchange, a project which would connect U.S. Route 2 with I-291 and, incidentally, require channelization of one mile of the Sleepers River. The circuit court finds that the district court was within its discretion in denying an injunction, despite the lack of NEPA compliance, in view of three factors: the project's advanced stage of completion, the virtual certainty that the interchange would ultimately be built, and the serious burden — delay, cost increases, unemployment, and excessively heavy traffic through the town of St. Johnsbury — which an injunction would place on the defendants. In the Sleepers River case, the court refuses to grant a remand to the district court on the issue of whether channelization of the river would violate the FWPCA, for the same equitable considerations underlying the denial of relief on plaintiffs' NEPA claims.

Counsel for Appellees in Conservation Society and for Appellants in Vermont Natural Resources
Harvey D. Carter
Williams, Witten, and Carter
115 Elm Street
Bennington, Vt. 05201

Counsel for Appellants in Conservation Society and Appellees in Vermont Natural Resources
Robert C. Schwartz Ass't Att'y General, Vermont
Burlington, Vt. 05401

William B. Gray Ass't U.S. Attorney
Rutland, Vt. 05701

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
Sarah Chasis
Angus Macbeth
15 W. 44th St.
New York, N.Y. 10036

J. G. Speth
Edward L. Strohbeth, Jr.
1710 N Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036