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Hart & Miller Islands Area Envtl. Group v. Corps of Eng'rs

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20189
Nos. No. HM77-973, 505 F. Supp. 732/15 ERC 1420/(D. Md., 12/23/1980) On remand

The court rejects a number of challenges to the adequacy of an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposed diked disposal facility which will contain spoil dredged from Baltimore Harbor. Plaintiffs challenged the granting by the Army Corps of Engineers of a permit to the state of Maryland to construct the facility on two islands in the Chesapeake Bay. The court first holds that plaintiffs have stated as proper claim under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Second, the court finds that the Corps need not comply with a state law concerning landfill disposal systems because the law does not apply to the proposed structure. Furthermore, a zoning exemption is not needed because the state, as permittee, is not subject to the local zoning ordinance. Finally, the court rejects a series of allegations regarding failures of the EIS and the Corps' NEPA decisionmaking process. Although the court considers that some of plaintiffs' substantive arguments have merit, it limits its review to the question of compliance with NEPA's procedural requirements under a standard of reasonableness. The court notes that although the EIS failed to indicate whether the Corps considered possible construction failures, the administrative record reveals that the Corps did in fact consider such problems. The Corps also gave reasonable consideration to alternative sites and to the environmental effects of the project in sufficient detail to fulfill the procedural mandate of NEPA. Thus, defendants' motions for summary judgment are granted.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Edward B. Rybczynski, Ralph K. Rothwell Jr.
820 Fidelity Bldg., Baltimore MD 21201
(301) 685-5095

Counsel for Defendants
Russell T. Baker Jr., U.S. Attorney; Edward M. Norton Jr., Ass't U.S. Attorney
101 W. Lombard St., Baltimore MD 21201
(301) 539-2940

Nancy L. Long, Lawrence R. Liebesman
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2280

James K. Robinson, Michael B. Hare
Army Corps of Engineers, P.O. Box 1715, Baltimore MD 21203
(301) 962-3385

Counsel for Intervening Defendant Steamship Trade Ass'n of Baltimore, Inc.
William C. Stifler III, Warren K. Rich
Niles, Barton & Wilmer
929 N. Howard St., Baltimore MD 21201
(301) 539-3240

Counsel for Intervening Defendant State of Maryland
Stephen H. Sachs, Attorney General; Paul F. Strain, Scott A. Livingston, Robert B. Harrison III, Ass't Attorneys General
Department of Law, One S. Calvert St., Baltimore MD 21202
(301) 383-3737