Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Homeowners Emergency Life Protection Comm. v. Lynn

Citation: 6 ELR 20487
No. No. 74-3301, (9th Cir., 05/26/1976) Injunction issued

The Ninth Circuit enjoins federal reimbursement funding for the continued construction of the Los Angeles Dam and Reservoir Project pending plaintiff's appeal from a lower court's denial of injunctive relief in this NEPA suit. Defendants' filing of an environmental impact statement for the project did not moot the appeal since the plaintiff also challenges the statement's sufficiency under the statute. The decision of the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration to provide reimbursement for the project is unquestionably major federal action subject to NEPA, and defendants concede that the district court erred in holding that § 405 of the Federal Disaster Relief Act of 1974 applies retroactively to exempt the project from NEPA's requirements. The court finds that plaintiff has shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its claim that the EIS is inadequate because it fails to consider reasonable alternatives to the project. The court notes in this regard that the Council on Environmental Quality, whose interpretation of the statute is entitled to great weight, also held the limited scope of the EIS to be unwarranted. In addition, the court finds that the balance of harms favors issuance of the injunction. Without such relief, construction of the project may be completed using federal funds without consideration of less environmentally damaging alternatives as required by NEPA. Since only federal reimbursement funding is enjoined, the city will not be seriously injured in view of its asserted ability and intention to continue construction even without federal funding.

For the district court's opinion, see 5 ELR 20195.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant
Durwood J. Zaelke
Frederic P. Sutherland
Center for Law in the Public Interest
10203 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90067
(213) 879-5588

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Larry G. Gutterridge
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

Kenneth W. Downey, Asst. City Attorney
111 N. Hope St.
Los Angeles CA 90051
(213) 481-6368

Browning, Ely & Sharp,* JJ.