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Moloney v. Kreps

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20791
Nos. No. 77-677, 10 ERC 1773/(D.N.J., 09/07/1977)

The court denies plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction against construction of a proposed baler facility for solid waste disposal in the Hackensack Meadowlands after granting plaintiffs' standing to raise environmental claims under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). New Jersey approved operation of the facility, and the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) approved a construction grant. As residents of the area where the facility will be built, plaintiffs sought to enjoin disbursement of the federal grant funds because the rapid approval of the application was arbitrary and capricious. In addition, plaintiffs sought remand of the case for a full and formal exploration of the environmental issues under NEPA. The court determines plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the EDA grant because they established neither an injury-in-fact nor that their claim comes within the zone of interests protected by the Local Public Works Act authorizing the grants. Plaintiffs do, however, have standing to raise the claims that an environmental impact statement (EIS) pursuant to NEPA is required and that the agency's consideration of environmental factors of the proposed facility was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion. Moving to the merits, the court finds that plaintiffs failed to state a claim under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act because they filed to show a violation of the Act's standards. On the NEPA issue, the court notes that EDA regulations do not require an EIA for grant applications and determines that EDA reviewed the environmental concerns thoroughly and completely within the time constraints for grant approvals set by those regulations. Relying on the United States Supreme Court's decision in Flint Ridge Development Co. v. Scenic Rivers Ass'n, 6 ELR 20528, the court finds a clear statutory conflict between NEPA and the 60-day time period for grant approvals set by the Local Public Works Act. NEPA's impact statement requirements arethus inapplicable and plaintiffs can show no likelihood of success on the merits of this claim. Furthermore, plaintiffs will not suffer irreparable harm if initial construction is not halted, but defendants will suffer economic injury because of increased costs if the grant is delayed. The motion for a preliminary injunction must therefore be denied.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Leon Wold
Krieger & Chodash
921 Bergen Ave., Jersey City NJ 07306
(201) 653-2925

Counsel for Defendants
Andrew Higgins, U.S. Attorney
970 Broad St., Newark NJ 07102
(201) 645-6429

William F. Hyland, Attorney General
Dep't of Law & Public Safety
State House Annex, Trenton NJ 08625
(609) 292-4925