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Davis v. Mineta

Citation: 32 ELR 20727
No. No. 01-4129, 302 F.3d 1104/(10th Cir., 06/20/2002)

The court preliminarily enjoins the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) from proceeding with a highway project that involves road construction and expansion through parkland. The DOT prepared an environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact for the project instead of an environmental impact statement, and individuals filed suit arguing that the DOT's actions violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and § 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act. The court first holds that the individuals who brought suit against the DOT adequately showed that the highway project would cause them irreparable harm under NEPA and § 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act. Similarly, the court holds that the environmental harms from proceeding with the project without adequate NEPA review outweigh the legitimately incurred costs to the DOT from an injunction. Likewise, the court holds that the public interest associated with completion of the project must yield to the obligation to construct the project in compliance with the relevant environmental laws. The court also holds that the individuals sufficiently showed that they would likely succeed on the merits of the case because the DOT's EA for the project was inadequate. Alternatives for the project were dismissed in a conclusory and perfunctory manner that do not support a conclusion that it was unreasonable to consider them as viable alternatives in the EA. Further, the significant and cumulative impact discussions in the EA were inadequate. The court, therefore, reverses a district court decision denying the preliminary injunction and remands the case for entry of a preliminary injunction barring future road construction pending resolution of the case on the merits.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Jeffrey W. Appel
Appel & Warlaumont
2250 Kensington Ave., Salt Lake City UT 84108
(801) 532-1252

Counsel for Defendants
Jeffrey C. Dobbins
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Ebel, J. Before Seymour and Lucero, JJ.