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Farmland Preservation Ass'n v. Goldschmidt

ELR Citation: 10 ELR 20052
Nos. No. 79-1583, 611 F.2d 233/14 ERC 1791/(8th Cir., 12/10/1979) Aff'd

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms a lower court's grant of summary judgment in a suit challenging the adequacy of an environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared in connection with the proposed construction of an interstate highway segment between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, Iowa. The project will take farmland and force farmers to conduct inefficient diagonal operations but will provide distinct advantages to motorists by furnishing a direct route between the two cities. The court rejects plaintiffs' claims that the EIS did not fulfill the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act because it did not adequately discuss the "no action" alternative and failed to consider the option of building a "less than Interstate" highway. The EIS' discussion of the no action alternative, although brief, was not insufficiently detailed or unreasonable given that there was in fact little to say about that alternative. The district court properly emphasized, moreover, that it should not substitute its judgment on the proper alternative for that of the administrative decisionmaker. Finally, because federal highway law in effect when the final EIS was prepared precluded the withdrawal of the segment in question from the interstate highway system, such an alternative was too remote and speculative to require discussion.

Counsel for Appellants
Bruce J. Terris
1526 18th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 332-1882

Counsel for Federal Appellees
David C. Shilton
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2737

Counsel for State Appellees
Robert W. Goodwin, Special Ass't Attorney General
Iowa Dep't of Transportation
800 Lincoln Way, Ames IA 50310
(515) 296-1111

Henley, J., joined by Lay and Heaney, JJ.