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Bucks County Bd. of Comm'rs v. Interstate Energy Co.

Citation: 6 ELR 20406
No. No. 74-2758, 403 F. Supp. 805/(E.D. Pa., 11/17/1975)

The Delaware River Basin Commission adequately complied with all the requirements of NEPA in approving construction of a proposed oil pipeline. Jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's challenge to the Commission's action cannot be predicated on the Declaratory Judgment Act, the mandamus statute, the Administrative Procedure Act, or the federal question statute, but the court concludes that NEPA itself confers such jurisdiction. On a consideration of the merits, the court finds that the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the pipeline is a detailed and independent examination of the project which evidences an "interdisciplinary approach" to environmental considerations, contains factual support for its stated conclusions, and clearly sets forth the opposing scientific viewpoints concerning the project's ecological impacts. Irrespective of the split in judicial authority as to whether NEPA requires a cost-benefit analysis in the EIS for a publicly-funded project, the court can find no case requiring such an analysis where a privately financed project is involved. The plaintiffs are also mistaken in contending that NEPA requires an adversary hearing after completion of the final EIS. Public hearings under NEPA are left to agency discretion by the Council on Environmental Quality's NEPA Guidelines, and the Commission neither acted arbitrarily nor abused its discretion by failing to hold an additional adversary hearing in this case. Plaintiffs' further claim, that the final EIS failed to accompany the proposal through the existing agency review processes because it was issued after the public hearings is likewise in error, since the Supreme Court expressly rejected this interpretation in Aberdeen & Rockfish R.R. v. SCRAP, 5 ELR 20418.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Lawrence S. Sager
Sager & Sager
45 High Street
Pottstown PA 19464
(215) 323-1328

Counsel for Defendants
Peter Platten
Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll
Land Title Building
Philadelphia PA 19110
(215) 567-5615

William Miller
1 Palmer Square
Princeton NJ 08540
(609) 921-6077