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Merrell v. Block

ELR Citation: 14 ELR 20225
Nos. No. 81-6138-E, 20 ERC 1620/(D. Or., 04/18/1983)

After finding that the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the court enjoins segments of defendants' plans for spraying herenicides within the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon. At the outset, the court rejects defendants' standing defense, ruling that plaintiff, who has alleged that he lives in or very close to the areas to be sprayed, has established the requisite injury-in-fact. On the merits, the court rules that provisions in the Council on Environmental Quality NEPA regulations requiring jointly prepared environmental impact statements (EISs) when several agencies are involved in an action do not require preparation of an EIS simply because actions of several agencies, USFS, BLM, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), overlap. Nor does NEPA require these agencies to integrate their disparate regulatory programs relating to herbicides.

The court agrees with plaintiff, however, that defendants erred in simply inserting the results of safety research EPA developed in registering the herbicides into their environmental analyses, instead of conducting their own examination of the site-specific environmental effects of the herbicides in question. The case law makes it clear that agencies in the defendants' position must do more than simply trot out studies developed by EPA when registering chemicals. Finally, after declaring moot plaintiff's challenge to the adequacy of the EPA research data, the court orders defendants to halt the disputed spraying programs.

[The Ninth Circuit's affirmance, with modifications, of the court's judgment is reported at 14 ELR 20241 — Ed.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Paul E. Merrell
Route 2, Box 190, Tidewater OR 97390
(no telephone listed)

Counsel for Defendants
Thomas C. Lee, Ass't U.S. Attorney
312 U.S. Cthse., 620 SW Main St., Portland OR 97205
(503) 221-2101