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Mason County Medical Ass'n v. Knebel

Citation: 7 ELR 20707
No. No. 77-1169, 563 F.2d 256/10 ERC 1801/(6th Cir., 09/20/1977)

The Sixth Circuit affirms the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, holding that plaintiffs have little likelihood of success on the merits in their allegation that an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposed coal-fired electric generating plant is inadequate. Plaintiffs challenged, under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the issuance of loans by the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to East Kentucky Power Cooperative to construct a 500-megawatt plant in Mason County, Kentucky. REA filed an EIS in December 1976 and the loans were made in early 1977. The court holds that its scope of review of a decision on a preliminary injunction is limited to whether the lower court abused its discretion. Under this standard, the lower court properly concluded that plaintiffs' claim that the EIS inadequately discussed alternative electricity purchasing arrangements would not succeed on the merits. The EIS contains adequate discussion of all reasonable alternatives to construction of the plant. Moreover, defendants would be caused substantial harm if an injunction were issued after large financial commitments to the plant's construction have been made. Finally, plaintiffs' assertion that the district court's standard of "substantial" compliance with NEPA applies an incorrect standard is without merit because, in the context of a preliminary injunction, strict compliance with NEPA must be tempered by a practical rule of reason.

For summaries of moving papers in the district court, see ELR PEND. LIT. 65451.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Robert E. Manley, Timothy A. Fischer
4500 Caraw Tower, Cincinnati OH 45202
(513) 721-5525

Counsel for Defendant REA
Patrick H. Molloy, U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 1490, Lexington KY 40501
(606) 233-2661

Peter R. Taft, Ass't Attorney General; Edmund Clark, Kathryn A. Oberly
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2756

Counsel for Defendant East Kentucky Power Cooperative
Bert T. Combs
Tarrant, Combs & Bullitt
2600 Citizens Plaza, Louisville KY 40202
(502) 584-1144

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
William Haring
1612 Tremont Place, Denver CO 80202
(303) 892-6301

Before: WEICK and PECK, Circuit Judges, and FREEMAN, Senior District Judge.*