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Coalition on W. Valley Nuclear Wastes v. Department of Energy

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20271
Nos. No. 05-CV-0614-C, (W.D.N.Y., 09/28/2007)

A district court denied plaintiff environmental group's motion for summary judgment under the Administrative Procedure Act to compel compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and to enforce a 1987 stipulation. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) did not violate NEPA's policy prohibiting segmentation when it split its waste management and facility closure processes into two separate environmental impact statements. Under applicable scoping regulations, related projects may be segregated if each project is of sufficient length to address environmental effects of a broad scope and where the projects have independent utility or significance. DOE's decisions regarding its low-level radioactive wastes do not have a direct and substantial probability of influencing its decision on facility closure, and therefore may be considered separately. Additionally, because DOE's strategy is not a means of evading NEPA review, it is also not a basis to find a breach of the agency's contractual obligations under the 1987 stipulation. DOE is also entitled to summary judgment regarding its authority to implement criteria for waste reclassification.