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Bair v. California Department of Transportation

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20258
Nos. 19-16478, (9th Cir., 12/02/2020)

The Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that the California Department of Transportation failed to adequately consider the environmental impacts of a proposed highway improvement project in a state park. Residents and environmental groups challenged the project on a variety of grounds, including the failure to comply with NEPA. The district court determined that the 2010 EA on which the Department relied to approve the project failed to take a sufficiently "hard look" at the environment impacts, and enjoined it from proceeding with the project until an EIS was finalized. The appellate court found that none of the purported inadequacies identified by the district court rendered the EA arbitrary and capricious, and held that the Department's issuance of a FONSI based on the EA was reasonable. It therefore reversed and remanded the district court's ruling.