Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Sierra Club v. Cavanaugh

Citation: 8 ELR 20472
No. No. 77-4070, 447 F. Supp. 427/11 ERC 1580/(D.S.D., 03/23/1978)

Plaintiff's challenge on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) grounds to the construction of two rural water supply systems is rejected. The Minnehaha system has been in planning stages since 1971, is currently 98 percent completed, and the evidence shows that the bases of plaintiff's legal challenge were fully formulated more than a year and a half prior to the date suit was filed. Although the doctrine of laches is not favored in environmental litigation, the court finds that the essential elements have here been satisfied, and this count of the complaint is accordingly dismissed. Plaintiff also seeks injunctive relief against the proposed construction of the South Lincoln system, asserting that it will result in two significant environmental effects and thus requires preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) under NEPA. The Farmers Home Administration, however, has prepared an environmental impact assessment for the project which effectively refutes these claims. Plaintiff's fears that the proposed system will encourage scattered urban development are unjustified in light of existing local zoning ordinances. Secondly, the claim that the proposed system will significantly increase demand on an already deficient water supply are not well taken because the new system merely replaces an existing system with substantially identical capacity. The court concludes that the agency's environmental assessment has taken a thorough and hard look at all relevant issues and has reasonably determined that the preparation of an EIS is not required under NEPA.

Counsel for Plaintiff
John N. Gridley, III
Suite 422, 101 S. Main, Sioux Falls SD 57102
(605) 339-1748

H. Anthony Ruckel, William H. Haring
335 Republic Bldg., 1612 Tremont Pl., Denver CO 80202
(303) 892-6301

Counsel for Defendants
Robert D. Hiaring, Ass't U.S. Attorney
231 Federal Bldg., 400 S. Phillips Ave., Sioux Falls SD 57102
(605) 336-2980

Richard F. Statley
464 Boyce Greeley Bldg., Sioux Falls SD 57102
(605) 336-7021

Eugene J. Irons, Jeff Masten
Myrabo & Irons
108 S. Broadway, Canton SD
(605) 987-2653

Richard O. Gregerson
Woods, Fuller, Schultz & Smith
310 S. First Ave., Sioux Falls SD 57102
(605) 336-3890