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Sierra Club v. Hassell

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20227
Nos. No. 80-7565, 636 F.2d 1095/15 ERC 1666/(5th Cir., 02/13/1981) Aff'd

The court affirms the district court's ruling, 10 ELR 20779, that the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) properly determined that the reconstruction of the Dauphin Island Bridge in Alabama, destroyed by Hurricane Frederic, is not a major federal action requiring preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The court finds that defendants complied with their NEPA regulations in classifying the reconstruction project as a non-major federal action. The status of the environment to be considered is Dauphin Island with a bridge, not after the hurricane without a bridge. There is thus no significant alteration of the status quo and defendants reasonably concluded that preparation of an EIS was not required. The court notes, however, that new FHwA regulations will, in the future, require an EIS for construction of a replacement bridge. Finally, the court rules that defendants substantially complied with Executive Order Nos. 11988 and 11990 requiring an evaluation of the effects of actions on floodplains and wetlands.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Frederick S. Middleton III
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
1424 K St. NW, Washington DC 20005
(202) 347-1770

Larry T. Menefee
Blackshire, Menefee & Stein
Van Antwerp Bldg., Mobile AL 36602
(205) 433-2000

Sarah Chasis
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
122 E. 42nd St., New York NY 10017
(212) 949-0049

Counsel for Defendants
Larry U. Sims
Coale, Helmsing, Lyons & Sims
P.O. Box 2767, Mobile AL 36601
(205) 432-5521

Jerry L. Jackson, Sanford Sagalkin
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2772

Before SIMPSON, RONEY, and THOMAS A. CLARK, Circuit Judges.