10 ELR 20352 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1980 | All rights reserved

Mountainbrook Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Adams

No. 79-1543 (4th Cir. May 16, 1980)

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the decision of the district court, 9 ELR 20686, dismissing an action seeking, inter alia, an injunction halting a federally funded highway project because of defendants' alleged failure to comply with the terms of the environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared for the project. The court rules thatthe National Environmental Policy Act does not authorize suits by private parties to enforce its provisions. Furthermore, the district court properly determined that the EIS prepared for the highway was in compliance with the Act. Finally, assuming arguendo that appellants had pleaded a proper cause of action, the district court was correct in ruling that the other prerequisites to injunctive relief were not present.

Counsel for Appellants
Robert B. Long Jr., David E. Matney III
Long, McClure, Parker, Hunt & Trull
P.O. Box 7053, Asheville NC 28807
(704) 258-2296

Counsel for Defendants
Harold M. Edwards, U.S. Attorney; Phillip Kelley, Ass't U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 132, Asheville NC 28802
(704) 258-2850

Thomas H. Pacheco; James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2701

James B. Richmond; Rufus L. Edmisten, Attorney General
P.O. Box 25201, Raleigh NC 27611
(919) 733-4185

[10 ELR 20353]

Per curiam

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., an Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS") was filed relating to the construction of a federally funded interstate highway project. An open cut was to be made on the side of Beaucatcher Mountain in the City of Asheville, North Carolina, and the EIS contained provisions as to the method for disposing of waste rock and debris.

Appellants, as neighboring property owners, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, claiming failure to comply with the provisions of the EIS regarding dispssal of waste rock and debris. Joined as defendants were the United States Secretary of Transportation, the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, several North Carolina highway officials, and the contractor engaged in completing the open cut project.

The matter came on for hearing in the district court on the plaintiffs' application for a preliminary injunction, and on motions of the defendants to dismiss. In a careful comprehensive opinion, the district judge determined that no private cause of action was created under NEPA, and that, consequently, on grounds of lack of standing on the plaintiffs' part, dismissal was in order. In the circumstances of this case, we agree with that conclusion. See also City of Blue Ash v. McLucas, 596 F.2d 709, 712 [9 ELR 20318] (6th Cir. 1979).

The district judge further rejected the argument that the EIS originally promulgated and declared to be in compliance in Beaucatcher Mountain Defense Association v. Coleman, (W.D.N.C. Civil Action No. A-75-112 [6 ELR 20638] 1976), appeal dismissed by agreement of the parties (4th Cir. No. 76-2024, 1976) was insufficient to cover the project and that another EIS was required with respect to disposal of waste rock and debris. The conclusion is sound.

Finally, assuming arguendo that there was standing on the part of the plaintiffs, and that they had pleaded an adequate cause of action, the district judge determined that a basis for grant of a preliminary injunction was not present. In this, the district judge was also entirely correct.

Accordingly, we affirm on the opinion of the district judge. Mountainbrook Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Adams, (W.D.N.C. No. A-C-79-0106 [9 ELR 20686] (1979).


10 ELR 20352 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1980 | All rights reserved