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Ecology Ctr. of La. v. Coleman

Citation: 5 ELR 20488
No. No. 74-3907, 515 F.2d 860/8 ERC 1168/(5th Cir., 07/11/1975) Rev'g summary judgment

The Fifth Circuit reverses a lower court's summary judgment for defendants in an action contesting the legality of a NEPA impact statement for a federal highway project. The court of appeals finds that there are genuine issues of fact concerning whether or not plaintiffs were properly notified of a public hearing on the draft impact statement, so that their absence from the hearing could be considered a failure to exhaust administrative remedies; and whether the project was segmented into two sections in order to serve legitimately independent transportation goals rather than to avoid filing an overall impact statement. Construction progress has not yet reached the point where no environmental benefits may be had by altering the project, and thus plaintiffs' two year delay in bringing suit did not so prejudice defendants' interests as to bar this action under the doctrine of laches. Where the Federal Highway Administration worked closeiy with the state department of highways during the drafting of an environmental impact statement on a federal highway project, but then independently reviewed the product, federal authorities did not unlawfully delegate EIS preparation responsibility to the state.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
J. Arthur Smith, III
222 Napoleon St.
Baton Rouge, La. 70802

Counsel for Defendants
Sharon P. Frazer
P.O. Box 44245
Capitol Station
Baton Rouge, La. 70804

Kathryn A. Oberly
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530