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Sierra Club v. Bostick

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20228
Nos. 12-6201, (10th Cir., 10/09/2013)

The Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision denying an environmental group's motion to preliminarily enjoin the construction of an oil pipeline to run from Cushing, Oklahoma, to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast near Port Arthur, Texas. The group argued that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated NEPA, the CWA, and the APA in approving the pipeline's construction. Specifically, they challenged the validity of the Corps' reissuance of nationwide permit 12 as well as its verification that the pipeline could proceed under it. The lower court denied their motion, ruling that the groups did not have a likelihood of success on the merits and that other equitable factors did not favor granting the injunction. On appeal, the groups argued that the lower court erred in concluding that the threatened environmental injuries were outweighed by the financial harm that the injunction would cause. But the groups failed to demonstrate that the lower court's determination regarding the balance of harms factor was an abuse of discretion. The groups' assertion that injunctive relief cannot be denied based on a weighing of economic harm is mistaken. Rather, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that financial harm can be weighed against environmental harm—and in certain instances outweigh it.