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Warm Springs Dam Task Force v. Gribble

Citation: 10 ELR 20559
No. No. 77-2301, 621 F.2d 1017/14 ERC 1744/(9th Cir., 06/23/1980) Aff'g denial of injunction

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the lower court's denial, 7 ELR 20612, of a motion for an injunction against further construction by the Corps of Engineers of Warm Springs Dam in northern California. In 1974, the Supreme Court halted the project pending the Corps' preparation of a supplement to the environmental impact statement (EIS) to consider the issue of seismic safety. In its draft supplemental EIS, the Corps had determined that the maximum destructive force that the dam must be engineered to withstand was from the San Andreas Fault, but concurrent studies by a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) geologist indicated that the Maacama Fault might present a greater hazard. The court holds that the Corps violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in failing to obtain written comments from the USGS, but declines to enjoin the project on this ground because of the Corps' good-faith efforts to obtain such comments. The court further declines to mandate revision of the supplemental EIS to include the new information on the Maacama Fault, as required under NEPA, because the Corps had fully studied the new information during the lower court trial and had reasonably concluded that the Maacama Fault created no greater danger than the San Andreas Fault. Finally, the court holds that the EIS was not required to discuss the consequences of a catastrophic dam failure because this was a remote and highly speculative event. Thus, the Corps' decision to proceed with the project was neither arbitrary, capricious, nor an abuse of discretion.

Counsel for Appellants
Leslie D. Perry
Luke, Libicki & Perry
847 Fifth St., Santa Rosa CA 95404
(707) 525-8800

Daniel B. Beck
1229 College Ave., Santa Rosa CA 95402
(707) 527-9440

T. H. McCarthy
McCarthy, Johnson, Miller & Shepard
605 Market St., Room 1300, San Francisco CA 94105
(415) 956-4100

Counsel for Appellees
Richard Ergo, Deputy County Counsel
2555 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa CA 95401
(707) 527-2421

Rodney H. Hamblin, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco CA 94102
(415) 556-1126

James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General; Edmund B. Clark
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2701

Before BROWNING, KENNEDY and HUG, Circuit Judges.