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Missouri v. Corps of Eng'rs

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20047
Nos. No. 07-1149, (8th Cir., 02/08/2008)

The Eighth Circuit held that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it implemented certain revisions to the operational document for the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System without preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS). The revision concerned the controlled release of additional water into the system in the spring to benefit certain threatened and endangered species. Missouri, which has consistently opposed a spring rise because of its potential adverse effect on downstream flood control, filed suit to enjoin implementation of the plan. The lower court properly dismissed the case. Neither the Corps' nor the Council on Environmental Quality's regulations prescribe a specific process to determine whether to prepare an SEIS. Here, the Corps prepared an environmental assessment (EA), not to help it decide whether to prepare an EIS, but rather to determine whether the change in agency action required an SEIS. And even though a finding of no significant fact is not appropriate because the action will have a significant impact on the environment, an SEIS is not required because the impact was sufficiently analyzed in an earlier final EIS. This approach is neither a misuse of the EA procedure nor a violation of NEPA.