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Hogan v. Brown

Citation: 11 ELR 20474
No. Nos. 78-1034, -1050, 507 F. Supp. 191/15 ERC 1996/(W.D. Ark., 01/30/1981)

The court rules that the environmental impact statements (EISs) prepared in connection with the expansion of the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge complied with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. In 1971 Congress authorized acquisition of the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge as part of the Ouachita-Black Navigation Project. The Army Corps of Engineers prepared an EIS in 1970 for the acquisition of the lands and another in 1974 for the entire navigation project. The government filed a condemnation action in 1978 to acquire a 235-acre tract in which plaintiffs owned or leased portions for recreational use.Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit, contending that the Corps failed to prepare a detailed EIS which adequately discussed the potential environmental impacts and alternatives of the project. The court first rules that although plaintiffs knew of the project five years before filing suit, this action is not barred by laches because it was filed soon after definite information concerning the project became available. Turning to the merits of the case, the court reviews the administrative record and finds that defendant prepared the EIS with good faith objectivity. Moreover, the Corps considered a range of alternatives and reasonably concluded that no alternatives would accomplish all of the objectives of the proposed action. Further, the EIS discussed in adequate detail the beneficial and adverse environmental impacts resulting from the project. Under the rule of reason, the environmental analyses were sufficient to permit defendant to fully consider and balance various environmental factors.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (14 pp. $2.25, ELR Order No. C-1245).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Joseph W. Gelzine, John P. Gill
Mitchell, Williams, Gill & Selig
400 Gaines Pl., Little Rock AR 72201
(501) 376-3151

Counsel for Defendant
Larry McCord, U.S. Attorney; J. Michael Fitzhigh, Ass't U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 1524, U.S.P.O. & Cthse. Bldg., Fort Smith AR 72902
(501) 740-3406

Dorothy R. Burakreis
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-4370

Roy, J.

[OPINION OMITTED BY PUBLISHER IN ORIGINAL SOURCE]