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Appalachian Mountain Club v. Brinegar

Citation: 5 ELR 20311
No. No. 74-208, 394 F. Supp. 105/7 ERC 1076/(D.N.H., 03/25/1975)

The final environmental impact statement for a proposed 6-mile interstate highway segment in New Hampshire and Vermont fails to comply with the requirements of NEPA. The EIS is inadequate because it does not assess the incidental environmental effects that construction of this segment will have on Franconia Notch State Park, thirteen miles to the south, in the form of increased traffic, air and noise pollution, and pressure for completion of Interstate 93 through the Notch. Under the rule of reason approach, "independent utility" and "logical termini" are not talismans that truncate the natural scope of an EIS. The proposed segment is part of the north-south interstate highway system, and is designed to complete that north-south system in New Hampshire. The fact that 13 miles of interstate highway, completed before NEPA was enacted, lie between this proposed segment and the Notch does not justify failure to consider incidental effects on the latter. The EIS in addition did not assess alternatives for routing interstate traffic away from the Notch, and included supplementary traffic data which was not part of the draft statement and therefore not subject to the NEPA review process. The court also rules that the statement was not prepared by the responsible federal agency as required by NEPA because the Federal Highway Administration failed to engage in any independent environmental analysis of the state-drafted EIS. An injunction against action toward construction pending completion of a valid EIS is continued. For the court's earlier ruling issuing the preliminary injunction, see 5 ELR 20004.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Frederic K. Upton
Upton, Sanders & Smith
10 Centre Street
Concord, N.H. 03301

Samuel Hoar
Goodwin, Procter & Hoar
28 State Street
Boston, Mass. 02109

Counsel for Defendants
John C. Boeckler Asst. Attorney General
State Capitol
Concord, N.H. 03301

William J. Deachman U.S. Attorney
U.S. Courthouse
Concord, N.H. 03301

Joseph M. Kerrigan
Hamblett, Kerrigan, LaTourette & Lopez
Eleven Concord Street
Nashua, N.H. 03060