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Northwest Envtl. Defense Ctr. v. Rumsfeld

Citation: 32 ELR 20643
No. No. 01-1489-HO, (D. Or., 04/19/2002)

The court holds that an environmental group's claim that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and a state military department violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) in connection with plans to build a military center is not ripe. The state purchased property on which to build the joint federal-state military facility and initiated the land use application process. The DOD does not dispute that the project will require NEPA compliance and stated that the preparation of an EA is underway. The court first holds that at this stage of the project, no federal action has been taken and no federal decisions have been finally made that would have necessitated the completion of an EA. Although the state has acquired the proposed land, allocated funds, and sought and been issued county permits, the DOD has yet to decide where to site the project or even whether to fund its construction. Additionally, the DOD has conditioned its approval of construction of the project on a NEPA determination that the project would not significantly impact the environment. Further, the commitment of funding to the project made by the DOD does not demonstrate an irretrievable and irrevocable commitment of resources triggering NEPA.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (21 pp., ELR Order No. L-511).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Daniel J. Rohlf, Senior Advocacy Fellow
Northwestern School of Law
Lewis & Clark College
10015 SW Terwilliger Blvd., Portland OR 97219
(503) 768-6700

Counsel for Defendants
Thomas C. Lee, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
1000 SW Third Ave., Ste. 600, Portland OR 97204
(503) 727-1000