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Conservation Law Found. of New England v. General Servs. Admin.

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20556
Nos. No. 82-1861, 707 F.2d 626/19 ERC 1349/(1st Cir., 05/17/1983) Aff'd in part

The First Circuit upholds in part a district court ruling, 13 ELR 20201, that the General Services Administration (GSA) must supplement an environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared for the proposed sale of surplus government property in Rhode Island. The First Circuit holds that the district court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that the EIS was not sufficiently detailed as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to enable GSA to make a reasoned choice as to whether or not to dispose of individual parcels. More detailed site-specific analysis of the environmental impacts of the likely reuses of the property is necessary. The court notes that the supplemental EIS need not be exhaustive, since it is speculative, but must reasonably discuss and justify assumptions concerning the probable reuses of the parcels. However, site-specific supplementation of the EIS concerning parcels likely to be reused for parks and recreation can be minimal.

Finally, the First Circuit agrees with the district court's conclusion that the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (FPASA) requirement that financial factors have highest priority in choosing a purchaser could be harmonized with NEPA through the FPASA's "public interest" provision. However, the First Circuit reverses the district court's ruling that before selling the land GSA must supplement the EIS with an analysis of specific proposals for land use submitted by prospective buyers. Since GSA has no power to assure that specific development plans will be implemented it is not reasonable for GSA to analyze them in an EIS. Furthermore, GSA will have already considered the consequences of probable reuses in the supplemental EIS required by the first part of the court's decision.

Counsel for Appellants
Peter R. Steenland Jr., Dirk D. Snel, Lawrence R. Liebesman, Martin Green
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2748

Everett Sammartino, Ass't U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 1401, Providence RI 02901
(401) 528-4311

Counsel for Appelles
Steven D. Stark, Kenneth T. Hoffman
Conservation Law Foundation of New England, Inc.
3 Joy St., Boston MA 02108
(617) 742-2540

Robert M. Sabel, John W. Dineen, Robert M. Dobbins
R.I. Legal Services
19 Spring St., Newport RI 02903
(401) 846-2264

Joined by Bownes and Tauro,* JJ.