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Environmental Defense v. Corps of Eng'rs

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20243
Nos. No. 04-1575, (D.D.C., 09/13/2007)

The court holds that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' authorization of a flood control project in the St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway on the west bank of the Mississippi River violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and enjoined further construction work on the project. Environmental groups argued that the Corps violated the Water Resources Development Act, the Clean Water Act (CWA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act, and the APA. Although the court may not determine whether the project is a good idea or a bad one, or to pass judgment on the policy implications of public works, the Corps resorted to arbitrary and capricious reasoning—manipulating models and changing definitions where necessary—to make the project seem compliant with the CWA and NEPA when it is not. Because it is not, and because the government’s arbitrary and capricious actions violate the APA, the court granted the groups' motion for summary judgment and enjoined further work on the project. In addition, the Corps must restore the disturbances created by the preliminary construction work that has already been completed.