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Smeltzer v. Adams

Citation: 8 ELR 20221
No. No. 77-3011, 11 ERC 1367/(N.D. Iowa, 01/30/1978) Injunction issued

The court issues declaratory and injunctive relief restraining further construction on a 21-mile segment of proposed Interstate Highway 520, ruling that plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment on their claim that the environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared for the project is inadequate under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Foremost among the EIS's deficiencies is that it views the 21-mile segment as an independent project rather than as part of the integrated 298-mile highway of which it is a component, contrary to the directives of the guidelines of the Council on Environmental Quality, the regulations of the Federal Highway Administration, and the comments on the draft EIS submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior. The EIS is also fatally defective for failure to identify and discuss fully the secondary impacts of the segment, most notably the extent to which it will attract commercial development and the ecological effects of salt compounds and other de-icing agents which will be applied to the road surface. In addition, the statement is critically short on discussion of alternatives to the highway, particularly the "do-nothing" alternative, which was dismissed in one sentence. Several alternatives are improperly rejected on the basis of "previous studies," the source of which was not disclosed. In sum, the EIS appears to be a summary, post-hoc justification rather than an environmental decision document, and it must be revised prior to continuation of the project.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Bruce J. Terris, Edward H. Comer
1526 18th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 332-1882

Robert W. Brinton
120 Central Ave. West, Clarion IA 50525
(515) 532-2851

Counsel for Defendants
Richard C. Turner, Attorney General; Asher E. Schroeder, Special Ass't Attorney General
State House, Des Moines IA 50319
(515) 281-5164

E. Lawrence Hannaway, Eric S. Gould
Land & Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2129