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Southwest Williamson County Community Ass'n v. Slater

Citation: 29 ELR 21095
No. 97-6526, 173 F.3d 1033/(6th Cir., 04/28/1999)

The court vacates a district court's dismissal of a community association's National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Intermodal Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act (ISTEA) claims against the federal government in connection with a highway project in Tennessee. The court first holds that the association's federal claims against the state department of transportation under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) should be dismissed because the APA does not apply to state agencies. The court next holds that the district court should not have dismissed the association's third NEPA claim against the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) without first determining whether the claim involved a federal major action that required a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) or the completion of an environmental impact statement. For two of the three environmental assessments (EAs) on which the NEPA claims are based, the FHwA's issuance of a FONSI is a final agency action for which the statute of limitations has passed. The FHwA, however, claimed no action was necessary for the third EA because the highway corridor it contemplated is not a major federal action. The district court, however, was well-situated to resolve that matter before dismissal. The court then holds that the district court erred in dismissing the association's ISTEA claim on the grounds that the Act provides no private right of action because the association brought its ISTEA claims against the FHwA pursuant to the APA.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Joe W. McCaleb
Law Offices of Joe W. McCaleb
100 Colonial Dr., Hendersonville TN 37075
(615) 822-4060

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

Before Moore and Dowd,* JJ.