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Hodges v. Abraham

Citation: 33 ELR 20005
No. No. 02-1639, 300 F.3d 432/(4th Cir., 08/06/2002)

The court holds that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in connection with its transfer of surplus plutonium from Colorado to South Carolina. DOE argued that the governor of South Carolina, who filed suit against DOE, lacked standing because he had not suffered an injury-in-fact as a result of DOE's actions. The court first holds that the governor's asserted proprietary interests in the land, streams, and drinking water of South Carolina, however, are sufficiently concrete to qualify as the bases for a recognized procedural right. Nevertheless, the court holds that the governor's claims are without merit. DOE took the requisite hard look at the risks of long-term plutonium storage at the South Carolina site, and examined the 50-year impacts of storage in general, and storage at the site, in particular. Similarly, because it was apparent that a proposed change—from storage at the site pending disposition to storage at the site without regard to disposition—did not create a new environmental picture from that previously studied, DOE reasonably decided that no further NEPA documentation was necessary.

Counsel for Plaintiff
William L. Want
Law Offices of William L. Want
171 Church St., Charleston SC 29401
(843) 723-5148

Counsel for Defendant
Jeffrey B. Clark
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000