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Save Our Wetlands v. Sands

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20851
Nos. Nos. 81-3304, -3556, 711 F.2d 634/19 ERC 1710/(5th Cir., 08/08/1983)

The Fifth Circuit holds that an environmental assessment (EA) need be nothing more than a statement by the responsible agency, based on a contractor's analysis, that a project will have no significant environmental impact and that the felling of trees in a wetland is not dredge and fill activity under §404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA). Initially, the court rules that the appellant organization has standing because its members would have standing to sue to protect the wetlands, one of the organization's stated purposes is wetlands protection, and appellant's claim does not require the participation of individual members. The court then holds that the Army Corps of Engineers complied with National Environmental Policy Act regulations. The Corps satisfied requirements for an EA by reviewing an environmental impact analysis prepared by the permit applicant, receiving comments from state agencies on the project, and filing findings of fact and a statement that there would be no significant environmental impacts. Applying a reasonableness standard, the court holds that the agency's finding that the project will not significantly degrade the environment is supported by the evidence. Also, the Corps adequately considered alternative routes before issuing the Rivers and Harbors Act §10 permit. Finally, the court holds that a §404 FWPCA permit is not required because the felling of trees that will occur is not "dredge and fill" under the FWPCA.

Counsel for Appellant
Peter D. Derbes
Derbes & Derbes
315 Richards Bldg., New Orleans LA 70112
(504) 522-8706

Counsel for Appellees
William F. Baity, Ass't U.S. Attorney
Fed. Bldg., 500 Camp St., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 589-2921

Martin W. Matzen, Edward J. Shawaker
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2850

Eugene G. Taggart
Monroe & Lemann
1424 Whitney Bank Bldg., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 586-1900

Before CLARK, Chief Judge, THORNBERRY, and RANDALL, Circuit Judges.