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Atchafalaya Basinkeeper v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20114
Nos. 18-30257, (5th Cir., 07/06/2018)

The Fifth Circuit vacated a lower court's decision to preliminarily enjoin a pipeline company from constructing part of a pipeline through the Atchafalaya Basin, a sensitive wetlands area in southern Louisiana. Environmental groups argued that the EAs conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) prior to issuing the construction permit violated NEPA and the CWA, by failing to adequately analyze mitigation for the loss of cypress-tupelo swamp along the pipeline right-of-way and failing to adequately consider the cumulative effects of the project. The lower court granted a preliminary injunction, finding that the Corps did not adequately analyze mitigation measures to offset damage to the wetlands and did not weigh cumulative impacts. On appeal, the company argued that the lower court abused its discretion in granting the preliminary injunction. The appellate court agreed, finding that the lower court overlooked the Corps' established methodology for analyzing and authorizing offsite mitigation to offset wetlands impacts and that the Corps did adequately consider cumulative effects of the project. The court therefore vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded the case for further proceedings.