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United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
January 16, 1981, Argued ; April 24, 1981, Decided
Nos. 79-2529, 79-2530, 80-1017, 80-1024
[*348] Commercial navigation on the Upper Mississippi River and the Illinois River is made possible through a series of 27 locks and dams known as the Upper Mississippi River Navigation System. Locks and Dam 26, which is located on the Upper Mississippi near Alton, Illinois, is a vital link in this system. Because it stands just south of the juncture of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, and just north of the juncture of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, it serves as a funnel through which all traffic along these waterways must pass. 2 Almost 13 [*349] years ago the Army Corps of Engineers proposed that the existing structure be replaced with a new lock and dam. The Corps believed that a new facility was necessary because the existing structure was deteriorating and lacked sufficient capacity to accommodate increasing barge traffic. After years of planning and several vigorously fought court [**3] battles, the Corps obtained legislative approval for the project in 1978, when Congress enacted a bill specifically authorizing construction of the new facility. Act of Congress, October 21, 1978, Pub.L.No. 95-502, 92 Stat. 1693 (P.L. 95-502). The Corps began to make construction plans shortly thereafter. 3
[**4] Before the Corps could proceed with construction of the facility, appellants, 18 midwestern railroads 4 [**6] and three environmental groups, 5 renewed an action against the Government 6 that they had originally commenced in 1974. In their amended complaint they sought to halt further work on the project. 7 The Association for the Improvement of the Mississippi River (AIMR) intervened in the District Court on the side of the Government. Although appellants raised a variety of claims, their objections were, in essence, that: (1) the cost-benefit analysis prepared by the Corps prior to receiving congressional approval of the project violated the Water Resources Planning Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. § 1962 et seq. (1976), various other statutes, and the Corps' own regulations, 33 C.F.R. Parts 290-295 (1979) 8; (2) the Corps failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq. (1976) 9; and (3) the planning conducted by the Corps after receiving congressional authorization did not comply with various statutes and Corps regulations. 10 The District Court dismissed the first set of claims for lack of jurisdiction. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. Co. v. [**5] Callaway (Atchison IV), 480 F. Supp. 972 (D.D.C.1979). After conducting a short trial it concluded that the Corps had adequately fulfilled its obligations under NEPA. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. Co. v. Alexander (Atchison V), 480 F. Supp. 980, 994-1002 (D.D.C.1979). As for the arguments regarding post-authorization planning, the District Court found [*350] that most of the appellants' claims lacked merit. Id. at 987. It concluded, however, that the Corps violated its own regulations when it failed to hold a public meeting to discuss implementation of the project. Id. at 993-994. It decided not to grant an injunction requiring the Corps to hold such a meeting. Id. at 1002-1003.
[**7] In this appeal the appellant railroads and environmental groups seek review of the District Court's decision. In general we are satisfied with the District Court's disposition of the case. The District Court was clearly correct in holding that it was without jurisdiction to review claims that the cost-benefit analysis prepared by the Corps failed to comply with the Water Resources Planning Act and various other statutes and regulations. We also agree that the Corps' Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) fulfilled its obligations under NEPA. Finally, we agree that the Corps should have held a public meeting after receiving congressional authorization so that it could solicit comments on implementation of the project. We disagree, however, with the District Court's decision not to require such a meeting. Thus we affirm in part and reverse in part, remanding so that the District Court may amend its judgment to require the Corps to hold a public meeting. This meeting should be held within 30 days of the time the judgment, as amended, becomes final. To ensure that the meeting is not an empty formality, the District Court should also enter an order requiring the Corps to respond in [**8] writing to the objections made at the meeting. This response should be completed no later than 30 days after the meeting is held.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
655 F.2d 346 *; 1981 U.S. App. LEXIS 13952 **; 210 U.S. App. D.C. 233; 11 ELR 20707; 16 ERC (BNA) 1357; 67 A.L.R. Fed. 1
THE IZAAK WALTON LEAGUE OF AMERICA, et al ., APPELLANTS v. JOHN O. MARSH, JR., Secretary, Department of the Army, et al .; THE ATCHISON, TOPEKA AND SANTA FE RAILWAY COMPANY, et al., APPELLANTS v. JOHN O. MARSH, JR., Secretary, Department of the Army, et al .; THE ATCHISON, TOPEKA AND SANTA FE RAILWAY COMPANY, et al. v. JOHN O. MARSH, JR., Secretary, Department of the Army, et al.; ASSOCIATION FOR IMPROVEMENT OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, APPELLANT; IZAAK WALTON LEAGUE OF AMERICA, et al . v. JOHN O. MARSH, JR., Secretary, Department of the Army, et al .; ASSOCIATION FOR IMPROVEMENT OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, APPELLANT
Prior History: [**1] Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (D.C. Civil Actions Nos. 74-1191 & 74-1190).
Locks, Dam, cost-benefit, River, environmental impact statement, regulations, replacement, planning, post-authorization, traffic, environmental, rehabilitation, railroads, public meeting, authorization, water resources, barge, waterways, Principles, Engineers, appellants', studies, Resources, Hearings, pre-authorization, recommended, Memorandum, fulfilled, courts, Planning Act
Transportation Law, Water Transportation, Waterways, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Reviewability, General Overview, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Governments, Federal Government, Employees & Officials, Labor & Employment Law, Employee Privacy, Disclosure of Employee Information, Public Employees, Substantive Due Process, Scope, Agency Rulemaking, Formal Rulemaking, Agency Adjudication, Hearings, Right to Hearing, Statutory Rights, Informal Agency Action, Standards of Review, De Novo Standard of Review, Civil Procedure, Appeals, De Novo Review, Substantial Evidence, Governmental Information, Public Information, Environmental Law, Natural Resources & Public Lands, National Environmental Policy Act, Remedies, Business & Corporate Compliance, Environmental Law, Assessment & Information Access, Environmental Impact Statements, Legislation, Expiration, Repeal & Suspension, International Trade Law, Trade Agreements, Environmental Provisions, Endangered Species, Fish & Fishing Rights, Administrative Record, Administrative Proceedings & Litigation, Judicial Review, Factual Determinations, Reviewable Agency Action, Environmental Assessments, Discovery, Privileged Communications, Arbitrary & Capricious Standard of Review, Mississippi River