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Simmons v. Corps of Eng'rs

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 21204
Nos. 97-1131, 120 F.3d 664/(7th Cir., 07/14/1997)

The court holds that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it failed to consider, in an environmental impact statement (EIS), reasonable alternatives to creating a single source of water to satisfy the needs of both a municipality and a contiguous water district. The court first rejects the Corps' argument that the Corps must accept the municipality's definition of the project. The court has previously held that the evaluation of alternatives mandated by NEPA is to be an evaluation of alternative means to accomplish the general goal of the action. The general goal of the municipality's application to the Corps for a permit for the project was to supply water to the municipality and the water district, not to build or find a single reservoir to supply that water. The court next finds that supplying the municipality and the water district from two or more sources is not absurd, which it must be to justify the Corps' failure to examine the idea at all. And the court rejects the municipality's argument that the Corps did look into separate-source alternatives. Although the municipality cites to the Corps' EIS and record of decision, all the court finds are conclusory statements.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Mark A. Brittingham
Casserly, Jones, Brittingham & Edwards
One Metropolitan Sq.
211 N. Broadway, Ste. 2420, St. Louis MO 63102
(314) 436-9600

Counsel for Defendants
William E. Coonan, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
Nine Executive Dr., Ste. 300, Fairview Heights IL 62208
(618) 628-3714

Before BAUER, CUDAHY, and KANNE, Circuit Judges.