Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Sierra Club, Inc. v. St. Johns River Water Management District

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20214
Nos. 6:14-cv-1877, (M.D. Fla., 11/06/2015) (Byron, J.)

A district court held that an environmental group may go forward with its CWA and NEPA lawsuit against a water district, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the owner of the largest federal mitigation bank in the United States over claims that the defendants have taken actions to use and develop the bank in ways that are not consistent with its perpetual preservation. The group's CWA and NEPA claims stem from concerns that the owner has planned "massive residential and commercial development" in and around the bank that will have myriad negative impacts on the ecological carrying capacity of the entire region and lead to habitat fragmentation, degradation, and diminishment. The defendants filed motions to dismiss, claiming the group lacked standing and failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted. But the court disagreed. The group has constitutional standing, and it satisfied the CWA's and NEPA's statutory standing requirements sufficient to proceed past the pleading stage. The group also provided an adequate basis for the court's exercise of federal question jurisdiction. Despite the water district's arguments to the contrary, the Eleventh Amendment does not render it immune from suit, as Ex Parte Young overcomes the district's sovereign immunity. In addition, because the defendants' asserted noncompliance occurred at the moment the challenged actions occurred, each of the group's claims are currently ripe for adjudication. And the group's complaint properly states a claim upon which relief may be granted.