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Concerned About Trident v. Rumsfeld

Citation: 6 ELR 20787
No. No. 75-1515, 555 F.2d 817/9 ERC 1370/(D.C. Cir., 10/13/1976) Aff'd

The court remands the environmental impact statement for the proposed Trident submarine base in Bangor, Washington to the Navy for a more extended discussion of alternative sites and of environmental impacts beyond 1981. The court rejects the argument that Navy actions relating to strategic military decisions are exempt from the requirements of NEPA. The Act clearly applies to all federal agencies, and only an unavoidable conflict with other statutory authority will excuse an agency from complying with its mandates. The Navy has pointed to no such conflict. The decision to go forward with the Trident base at the Bangor site was not arbitrary, since the agency made a good-faith effort to incorporate environmental considerations into the decisionmaking process and properly weighed environmental costs against social, technical and strategic benefits. Preparation of a broader program impact statement is not required, but the final impact statement fails to discuss the relative environmental impacts of feasible alternatives. The statement also inadequately addresses environmental effects for a reasonable period beyond 1981. The court therefore remands the impact statement to the Navy for revision within 120 days on these two points, but allows construction on the base to continue in view of its earlier finding that the Navy gave proper weight to environmental considerations in deciding to proceed with the project.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellants
David Sive
Winer, Neuberger & Sive
425 Park Ave.
New York NY 10022
(212) 421-2150

Ronald J. Wilson
810 18th St., NW
Washington DC 20006
(202) 628-3160

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Carl Strass
Irwin L. Schroeder, Jr.
Edmund B. Clark
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

Raymond M. Momboisse
Ronald A. Zumbrun
John H. Midlen, Jr.
Glenn E. Davis
Pacific Legal Foundation
1030 15th St., NW, Suite 342
Washington DC 20005
(202) 466-2686

Before Tamm, Leventhal and Kaufman,* JJ.