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Environmental Law Fund, Inc. v. Volpe

Citation: 2 ELR 20225
No. No. C-72-95 RFP, 340 F. Supp. 1328/3 ERC 1941/(N.D. Cal., 03/22/1972)

In highway planning, the design approval stage is the crucial date for determining if agencies have any discretion whether or not to file a NEPA statement. If the design approval stage had not been reached prior to January 1, 1970 (the effective date of NEPA), then the Act must be rigorously complied with. If design approval had been granted prior to that date, then the statute must be applied if practicable. Factors which influence whether compliance is practicable include the participation of the local community in the planning of the project, the extent to which the state has attempted to take environmental factors into account, the likely harm to the environment if the project is constructed while it compiles an environmental impact statement. Plaintiffs here have failed to show that the balance of these factors justifies enjoining construction of the highway. Injunction denied.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Douglas P. Ferguson
Ferguson & Capron
434 Jackson Street
San Francisco, California 94111

Counsel for California Highway Commission
Norval Fairman
369 Pine Street
San Francisco, California 94104

Counsel for United States
Paul E. Locke Assistant United States Attorney
Federal Building
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, California 94102