Federal District Court Denies Request to Expedite Minnesota CCLRT Supplemental FEIS
Posted on January 24, 2013
In the latest chapter of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit environmental review, the Federal District Court for the District of Minnesota denied Plaintiffs’ motion asking the Court to order Defendants to produce a supplemental final environmental impact statement (FEIS) within thirty days and to enjoin the project if they failed to do so. Saint Paul Branch of N.A.A.C.P. v. U.S. Dept. of Transp., No. 10–147, slip op. (D. Minn. Nov. 27, 2012). Plaintiffs successfully challenged the original FEIS as deficient under the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4331, et seq. (“NEPA”), because it failed to adequately address lost business revenues as an adverse impact of construction of the CCLRT Project. The court ordered Defendants to supplement the FEIS. However, instead of preparing a supplemental FEIS analyzing the lost-business-revenue issue, Defendants initiated preparation of an Environmental Assessment. In January 2012, the court granted plaintiffs’ motion to require Defendants to supplement the FEIS as originally ordered. Plaintiffs brought the motion at issue in this case because they believed the Defendants were unjustifiably delaying preparation of the FEIS supplement. In denying the motion, the Court found that Defendants were proceeding with the supplemental EIS at a reasonable pace, given NEPA’s substantial procedural requirements. Moreover, the Court found that the factors to be considered in a request for injunctive relief did not support Plaintiffs’ request to halt construction of the CCLRT project. For example, the Court found that Plaintiffs had not demonstrated that they would suffer irreparable harm by continuation of construction while the supplemental EIS is completed, given that civil construction of the CCLRT was scheduled to be substantially complete by December 31, 2012.