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Mississippi River Basin Alliance v. Westphal

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20175
Nos. No. 99-31235, 230 F.3d 170/(5th Cir., 10/23/2000)

The court affirms a district court holding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for a flood control project on the Mississippi River satisfied the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The court first holds that the Corps' SEIS satisfied NEPA's requirements for analysis of cumulative impacts, mitigation, and selected alternatives. The Corps' cumulative impact analysis provided sufficiently rigorous identification and consideration of the cumulative impacts of ongoing, proposed, and reasonably foreseeable future action to allow appropriate public assessment of the project in accordance with NEPA. There was no indication that the selected alternative project plan would have any cumulative impact other than that assessed in the SEIS. Further, the Corps conducted a serious and thorough evaluation of environmental mitigation options for the project that allowed its analysis to fulfill NEPA's process-oriented requirements. The SEIS identified the unavoidable impacts to terrestrial, wetland, and waterfowl resources and formulated alternative measures to compensate for those losses, including the acquisition of in-kind land for compensation. Moreover, the Corps rigorously evaluated all reasonable alternatives to the project. The reasons that the Corps gave for rejecting alternatives were satisfactory.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Melissa A. Samet
Law Offices of Melissa A. Samet
180 Montgomery St., Ste. 1400, San Francisco CA 94104
(415) 627-6700

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

Before King and Parker, JJ.