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Maddox v. Bradley

Citation: 2 ELR 20404
No. No. 2-1217, 345 F. Supp. 1255/4 ERC 1258/(N.D. Tex., 06/22/1972)

The plaintiffs, landowners in New Mexico, sought to enjoin the fencing of property purchased from then by the Bureau of Reclamation on the grounds that the fencing would be arbitrary and capricious and that no action could be taken until an environmental impact statement was filed pursuant to NEPA. The property to be fenced had formerly been owned by the plaintiffs and had been taken by the United States for use as a holding reservoir. In an earlier suit to value the property for condemnation purposes, the Tenth Circuit had held specifically that the United States would have the right to fence the property and therefore had ordered the district court to take that factor into account in valuing the property. That holding demonstrates that the United States purchased the full fee simple rights in the property, and no statements by government witnesses in that suit could now deny the government the right to fence its land. No NEPA rights of action are available since the entire project, including the fencing, had been planned and scheduled long before the effective date of NEPA. Moreover, the fence would serve to enhance environmental values by providing protected grazing for wildlife. Finally, the plaintiffs have no standing to sue under NEPA since the only harm they have alleged is that they will be prevented from watering their livestock if the fence is erected; this does not amount to an allegation of individualized harm caused by the lack of an environmental study. Any harm they may have suffered has been paid for in the condemnation award. Motion to dismiss granted and all relief denied.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Robert L. Templeton
Kolander, Templeton & Hamilton
905 Fisk Building
Amarillo, Texas 79101

Counsel for Defendants
Claude D. Brown
United States Attorney
Federal Court Building
Fort Worth, Texas 76102