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National Wildlife Fed'n v. Andrus

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20526
Nos. No. 76-2266, 440 F. Supp. 1245/10 ERC 1353/(D.D.C., 06/21/1977)

The Secretary of the Interior is ordered to halt construction of a 23-megawatt power plant at the Navajo Dam on New Mexico's San Juan River pending receipt of congressional authorization and compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA). Congress has yet to change its view that the Navajo Dam was not to be used as a power source for an irrigation project. Absent prior authorization, appropriation of funds for the project cannot substitute for the express legislative grant of authority needed for power plant design and construction. In addition, the probing examination of project impacts required by NEPA is not satisfied when an agency defers a detailed analysis of the effect of power plant activities on fish and wildlife. Though an inadequate impact statement may be later supplemented, NEPA requires discussion of environmental costs so that they may be weighed against economic benefits. Moreover, the rigorous examination of project alternatives is not satisfied when some are summarily dismissed while others are totally avoided. Finally, the Secretary's responsibility under FWCA to determine means to mitigate wildlife impacts includes the duty to inform Congress of project impacts so that it may consider conservation measures. Consequently, an injunction is proper since continued construction during a period of environmental review would forever preclude complete analysis of reasonable alternatives.

For moving papers in this case, see ELR 65452.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Patrick A. Parenteau
National Wildlife Federation
1412 16th St., NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 797-6882

Counsel for Defendants
Gary B. Randall
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2845