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Jicarilla Apache Tribe of Indians v. Morton

Citation: 2 ELR 20287
No. No. CIV 71-565-PHX-WCF, 3 ERC 1919/(D. Ariz., 03/14/1972)

The Secretary of Interior has satisfied the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) with respect to his approval of various components of five major coal-fired electric generating stations — eventually consisting of 13 units capable of producing 7,172 megawatts located in the four corners area of the southwestern United States. Therefore, defendant-intervenors' motion for summary judgment in a suit brought to declare the Secretary's approvals invalid is granted. Paragraph 11 of the Council on Environmental Quality's Guidelines for the Implementation of NEPA does not require environmental impact statements to be prepared for programs or projects in which major federal action is involved when such programs or projects were initiated prior to January 1, 1970 and it is not practicable to reassess the basic course of action. Under these circumstances the lead agency is required to shape further incremental major actions to minimize adverse environmental consequences, including those not fully considered at the outset of the project or program. Although environmental impact statements have been filed for the Navajo and Huntington Canyon Projects, and a statement is being prepared for the San Juan Project, such compliance with NEPA is not mandatory because these projects were initiated prior to the effective date of the Act and their reassessment is not practicable.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Edward Berlin
1712 N Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Robert M. Kennan, Jr.
National Wildlife Federation
1412 16th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Counsel for Federal Defendants
William Cohen Attorney
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530