+1 212 318 2000
Europe, Middle East, & Africa
+44 20 7330 7500
+65 6212 1000
By Ari Natter
Aug. 18 - The federal government is not required to conduct an environmental impact review of a nearly 600-mile pipeline being constructed by Enbridge Inc because it is being constructed almost entirely on private land by a private company, a federal judge ruledin dismissing a lawsuit by environmental groups.
The Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation argued that the Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws by not analyzing the environmental impacts of a 589-mile segment of oil sands pipeline known as the Flanagan South (FS) Pipeline being constructed by a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc.
"Plaintiffs are wrong to insist that any federal agency had an obligation under NEPA or any other statute to conduct an environmental review of the impact of the entire FS Pipeline before Enbridge broke ground on the project, given that the Federal Defendants have permitting authority over only small segments of this private pipeline project and none of the defendant agencies, alone or in combination, have authority to oversee or control the vast portions of the FS Pipeline that traverse private land," Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote in the decision.
In addition to NEPA, the environmental groups argued in a six-count complaint that the federal government was also in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
Enbridge has secured 96 percent of the land rights from more than 1,700 landowners for the construction of the Oklahoma and Illinois section in question, Jackson wrote in the decision.
Approximately 27 miles of the 589-mile segment of the pipeline traverses federal land and waterways, Jackson wrote, and the Corps of Engineers has approved nearly 14 miles of water crossings, "which incorporate extensive mitigation measures" pursuant to the National Permitting System "that pertains to construction projects that are likely to have 'minimal' separate or cumulative adverse effects on the environment."
"The record evidence establishes that the FS Pipeline is not itself an 'action' of the federal government-no matter how earnestly Plaintiffs contend that it is," Jackson wrote, adding that NEPA is not "a mechanism for instituting federal evaluation and oversight of a private construction project that Congress has not seen fit to authorize the federal government to regulate."
To contact the reporter on this story: Ari Natter in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
The ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineersis available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/SIERRA_CLUB_v_UNITED_STATES_ARMY_CORPS_OF_ENGINEERS_Docket_No_113.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).