Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Sierra Club v. Marsh

Citation: 19 ELR 20692
No. No. 88-0116-B, 701 F. Supp. 886/(D. Me., 09/30/1988) Preliminary injunction denied

The court holds that plaintiff is not entitled to a preliminary injunction to prevent construction of a causeway and dredging of a site for a marine cargo terminal. In longstanding litigation over the proposed development on Sears Island, Maine, plaintiffs challenged permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers for the construction and sought to enjoin funding by the Federal Highway Administration. The court first holds that a finding of a likely violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) does not raise a presumption of irreparable injury or reduce the need to show that such injury is likely. Congress did not intend NEPA to foreclose the courts' equitable discretion. The court next holds that the construction and dredging will not cause irreparable environmental injury. Should plaintiffs prevail on the merits, the causeway can be removed and the disturbed habitat substantially restored, and the dredging will cause only minimal or impermanent environmental changes. The court holds that the balance of harms favors defendants, because the substantial economic costs of delaying the project outweigh the harm that the project may do to plaintiff's members' interest in sailing in the area. The court holds that the public interest also favors defendants because there is no significant basis for delaying the project, and it offers substantial local and statewide economic benefits. Finally, the court holds that plaintiff's allegations that its members use and enjoy the area's natural and recreational resources, and that defendants' actions will adversely affect these interests, sufficiently establish standing to defeat a motion to dismiss.

[Related opinions are published at 15 ELR 20911, 16 ELR 20487, and 19 ELR 20699.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Edward F. Larson
Weston, Patrick, Willard & Redding
84 State St., 11th Fl., Boston MA 02109
(617) 742-9310

Counsel for Defendants
Thomas G. Reeves, Chief Counsel
Legal Division, Maine Department of Transportation
Child St., State House Station No. 16, Augusta ME 04333
(207) 289-2681
Daniel S. Goodman
Environmental Defense Section, Land and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2216