Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Pacific N.W. Bell Tel. Co. v. Dole

ELR Citation: 16 ELR 20766
Nos. No. C86-111D, 633 F. Supp. 725/(W.D. Wash., 05/07/1986)

The court holds that disruption in telephone communications is not sufficient to give Pacific Northwest Bell, a telephone company, standing to challenge an environmental impact statement on an electric bus transit tunnel to be constructed in downtown Seattle. The court first holds that allegations of prospective damage to plaintiff's telephone equipment satisfies the injury-in-fact test. Plaintiff is not alleging injury to users of the telephone system, but to its own facilities. The court then holds that plaintiff has not shown that its alleged injury is within the zone-of-interests protected by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The court rejects plaintiff's argument that the potential temporary disruption of telephone service is an environmental interest. Plaintiff cannot rely on one alleged injury to satisfy the injury-in-fact test and another to satisfy the zone-of-interests test. The court rules, however, that even if plaintiff had properly made its standing argument, disruption of telephone service is not an interest protected by NEPA. Construction of the project will have an impact on plaintiff and the region's residents, but the possible disruption of telephone communication will not change the physical environment, which is all that NEPA requires the agency to consider.

Counsel for Plaintiff
David C. Groff
Wright, Todd, Riese & Jones
4200 Seattle-First Nat'l Bk. Bldg., Seattle WA 98154
(206) 622-3150

Counsel for Defendants
Ronald E. Cox, Karen Reed
Preston, Thorgrimson, Ellis & Holman
5400 Columbia Seafirst Ctr., 701 Fifth Ave., Seattle WA 98104-7011
(206) 623-7580

Robert M. Taylor, Ass't U.S. Attorney
3600 Seafirst 5th Ave. Plaza, 800 Fifth Ave., Seattle WA 98104
(206) 442-7970