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Law School Case Brief

Hanly v. Kleindienst - 471 F.2d 823 (2d Cir. 1972)


In deciding whether a major federal action will "significantly" affect the quality of the human environment, under § 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act, the agency in charge, although vested with broad discretion, should normally be required to review the proposed action in the light of at least two relevant factors: (1) the extent to which the action will cause adverse environmental effects in excess of those created by existing uses in the area affected by it, and (2) the absolute quantitative adverse environmental effects of the action itself, including the cumulative harm that results from its contribution to existing adverse conditions or uses in the affected area.


Plaintiff area residents brought an action seeking an injunction against construction of a jail and an office building. Plaintiffs argued that the governmental agency failed to comply with the requirements of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which required preparation of a detailed impact statement. The district court denied the petition, and the plaintiffs appealed.


Does the construction of a detention facility require compliance with the requirements of NEPA?




The court stated that although the governmental agency's statement was sufficient to support its statutory threshold determination with respect to the office building, it was required to give attention to other factors that might affect the human environment in the area of the detention center, including noise, dangers of crime, and transportation. The court further held that before a threshold determination was made, the public should have been given notice of the proposed major federal action.

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