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National Audubon Society v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20158
Nos. 7:17-CV-162-FL, (E.D.N.C., 09/25/2019) (Flanagan, J.)

A district court granted summary judgment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a challenge to the Corps' approval of construction of a terminal groin to mitigate shoreline erosion in a North Carolina town. A conservation group first argued that the third-party contractor who submitted the permit application had a conflict of interest in preparing the EIS for the Corps. The court found no conflict of interest because the mere fact that the contractor filled out a permit application on behalf of the town did not create an interest in the outcome of the project unless it was accompanied with a promise of future work, and the record showed no such promise before the groin was approved. The group then challenged the method the Corps used to compare alternatives to the project, arguing that it failed to pick the least environmentally damaging alternative from the five it considered. But the court found the Corps rationally explained why it decided to forgo the other alternatives, such as undertaking more rounds of renourishment or creating an ebb tide delta. It therefore granted summary judgment to the Corps.