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Citizens & Landowners Against the Miles City/New Underwood Powerline v. Secretary of Energy

Citation: 12 ELR 20037
No. No. CIV 81-5021, 513 F. Supp. 257/(D.S.D., 05/05/1981)

The court refuses to enjoin the Department of Energy's Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) from constructing a power line across plaintiffs' land, holding that the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project was adequate and that WAPA was not required to obtain siting permits from state authorities. Although the EIS did not consider an alternative route proposed by plaintiffs, failure to consider all possible alternatives does not make an EIS defective. The court concludes that defendants took a "hard look" at the environmental consequences of the project and therefore complied with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act WAPA's right-of-way permit to cross federal land must assure compliance with state siting and other standards if more stringent than applicable federal standards. The court rules that this provision does not subject WAPA to state permit or other procedural requirements, but mandates compliance with substantive state law only. Similarly, the Department of Energy Act, in requiring the Department to give due consideration to the energy plans of the states, does not subject WAPA to state procedural requirements. Finally, the court holds that the doctrine of laches would also bar plaintiffs' requested relief since plaintiffs' delay in asserting their rights and the granting of an injunction now, with the power line construction crews on plaintiffs' doorstep, would cause severe hardship for defendants.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Roberta Jean Earley
Earley & Fitzgerald
Jackson St., Spearfish SD 57783
(605) 642-7556

Counsel for Defendants
Terry L. Pechota, U.S. Attorney
231 Fed. Bldg. & U.S. Cthse., 400 S. Phillips Ave., Sioux Falls SD 57102
(605) 336-2980

Walter Washington
Public Utilities Comm'n, State Capitol, Pierre SD 57501
(605) 773-3203