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Rhode Island Comm. on Energy v. General Servs. Admin.

Citation: 5 ELR 20685
No. No. 74-272, 397 F. Supp. 41/7 ERC 2096/(D.R.I., 07/08/1975)

The General Services Administration is enjoined from taking any further action toward disposing of surplus government land to an electric utility company until an environmental impact statement meeting the requirements of NEPA has been prepared and circulated. Adopting the rational basis test to review GSA's decision as to the proper timing of EIS preparation, the court holds that the agency was mistaken in asserting that an impact statement need not be prepared prior to executing a conditional sale contract with the utility. To defer EIS preparation for as long as seven years while the utility completes on-site testing and applies for construction permits would be tantamount to a decision not to file an impact statement at all. The administrative record shows that the agency has not seriously considered possible alternative uses for the land, including as a wildlife refuge, and the prospective long delay prior to EIS preparation would in effect constitute an irretrievable commitment of time and resources to construction of the proposed nuclear plant. The court takes judicial notice of the "energy crisis," but rules that it cannot be raised to excuse non-compliance with NEPA. The prospect of lengthier deliberations is an integral part of the statute's mandate that agency decision making be altered so that environmental concerns can be identified and fully explored at the earliest stages of project planning. Plaintiffs lack standing, however, to pursue a claim under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, since as abutting landowners rather than unsuccesful bidders, thay have failed to show injury to an interest within the zone protected by the statute.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Myron M. Cherry
One IBM Plaza
Chicago, Ill. 60611

Thomas C. Mullaney, Jr.
2600 Industrial Bank Building
Providence, R.I. 02903

Counsel for Defendants
Lincoln C. Almond, U.S. Attorney
Everett C. Sammartino, Asst. U.S. Attorney
U.S. Courthouse
Providence, R.I. 02803