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Ringsred v. Duluth, City of

ELR Citation: 18 ELR 20115
Nos. No. 87-5124, 828 F.2d 1305/26 ERC 1580/(8th Cir., 09/14/1987)

The court holds that the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) did not review properly under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) the environmental effects of a proposed parking ramp owned by the city of Duluth, Minnesota, when BIA approved agreements between Duluth and an Indian tribe to develop a proposed adjacent bingo facility that would rely on the parking ramp for parking. The court holds that BIA's actions relating to the parking ramp were so incidental that the project does not constitute part of a major federal action under NEPA. Federal approval is not required for the construction of the parking ramp, and although BIA had factual veto power over its construction, it has no role in or control over its construction or design. The court next holds that the environmental assessment (EA) prepared by BIA did not have to consider the parking ramp as a secondary or indirect impact of the bingo facility development. At the time the EA was prepared for BIA approval of the bingo facility development, the parking ramp was only in the proposal stage. The obligation to consider the parking ramp's adverse environmental impacts arises only when an environmental impact statement must be filed. The court also holds that BIA reasonably concluded that development of the building as a bingo facility would not significantly affect the environment.

Turning to plaintiff's other claims, the court holds that the project is not a federal undertaking within the meaning of the NHPA, for the same reasons that the project is not a federal action under NEPA. Finally, the court finds that BIA did not act improperly in allowing Duluth to participate in the bingo venture and thus circumvent Minnesota gambling regulations.

Counsel for Appellant
Paul Engh
1625 Park Ave., Minneapolis MN 55404
(612) 332-8611

Counsel for Appellee
Maria A. Itzuka
Room 2339
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2000

Before LAY, Chief Judge, McMILLIAN and JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judges.