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Environmental Defense Fund v. Corps of Eng'rs

Citation: 2 ELR 20740
No. No. 72-1326, 470 F.2d 289/4 ERC 1721/(8th Cir., 11/28/1972) Aff'd

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirms a judgment dissolving an injunction and dismissing claims that provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) were violated by the decision of the Corps of Engineers to complete the Gillham Dam. The court concludes that there was substantial evidence that the environmental impact statement contained a full and accurate disclosure of the information required by § 102(2)(C) and that there was compliance in good faith. The court holds that the impact statement contained sufficient study, development and description of the alternatives mandated by § 102(2)(D). Finally, contrary to the district court, the court of appeals decides that, in view of the lack of statutory prohibition of judicial review on the merits and the lack of statutory commitment of the agency action to the discretion of the agency, the Administrative Procedure Act authorizes substantive review to determine if NEPA § 101(b), which obligates agencies to design and execute federal programs so as to protect and enhance the environment, and § 102 (1), which requires that the policies, regulations, and laws of the United States be interpreted to achieve the policies of § 101(b), have been obeyed. The standard of review is whether the agency acted within the scope of its authority and calculated the balance of environmental factors in a manner which is not arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion. Applying the foregoing standard, the court holds that the Corps' decision to complete the dam was not contrary to law in view of the benefits to be derived from flood control and of its substantially complete status.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Richard S. Arnold
Arnold & Arnold
P.O. Box 1938
Texarkana, Arkansas 75501

Counsel for Defendants
Glen R. Goodsell
Department of Justice
Lands Division
10th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.