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San Diego, County of v. Babbitt

ELR Citation: 24 ELR 21159
Nos. No. 93-0986-IEG (LSP), 847 F. Supp. 768/(S.D. Cal., 03/03/1994)

The court holds that a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) environmental impact statement (EIS) for a solid waste disposal facility on the Campo Indian Reservation in California complies with the National Environmental Policy Act. The court first holds that the plaintiff, San Diego County, failed to make the requisite showing to justify the court's expanding its review of the EIS beyond the administrative record to certain documents not in the record. The EIS already addresses issues brought up in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency document identifying the underlying aquifer as the sole source of drinking water for the region, and certain leases that might have been relevant to whether the Campo Band of Mission Indians would have the financial resources to take mitigation measures in the event of environmental damage are confidential and not relevant to the EIS' adequacy. The court next holds that the EIS adequately identifies and analyzes the project's adverse effects on the environment, including the project's possible effects on groundwater, potential mitigation measures that could be employed if a landfill liner failure occurred, and the impacts on air quality of hauling waste by both truck and rail. The court further holds that since the purpose of the project is to provide a significant economic development opportunity for the Campo Band of Mission Indians, the EIS did not have to consider alternative sites off the Reservation. Also, the EIS did not fail to evaluate any unavoidable impacts on groundwater because BIA's experts apparently believed that there were no significant unavoidable impacts. Finally, the court holds that BIA provided the public and other agencies with all information relevant to the environmental impact of the project and considered and responded to their comments.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Scott Peters, Deputy County Counsel
County Counsel's Office
1600 Pacific Hwy., San Diego CA 92101
(619) 531-5880

Counsel for Defendants
Lauren N. Soll
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000