Sierra Club v. United States Army Corps of Engineers 701 F.2d 1011 (2d Cir 1983)
US Army Corps of Engineers was trying to build a new
highway in Manhattan that required filling in some shoreline of the Hudson
Pursuant to the National Environmental Protection Act
(NEPA), the Corps prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The draft EIS concluded that the area being filled in was
a "biological wasteland."
The US Fish and Wildlife Service objected to the
conclusions and offered evidence that the area was a critical fish
The Corps issued a final EIS that did not change its
finding that the area was a biological wasteland.
The Sierra Clubs sued to stop the project, on the grounds
that the EIS was not adequate.
The Trial Court found for the Sierra Club and issued an
injunction. The Corps appealed.
The Trial Court found that the EIS did not adequately
compile relevant information with respect to the impact on fish.
The Appellate Court affirmed and ordered a new EIS to be
The Appellate Court found that even though the judicial reviewability
of EIS judgments should be construed very narrowly, the Court still had
the authority to review the EIS to ensure that procedures had been
The US Supreme Court had previously ruled that the court
review of the adequacy of EISs was limited to procedural issues, not
The Appellate Court found that the Corps violated the
procedures required by NEPA by failing to consider evidence about
the fish in their final EIS.
Basically, the Corps failed to consider compiled
information in good faith, and that procedural failure to consider all
the information led them to make the erroneous conclusion that the area
was a "biological wasteland."
The Appellate Court limited their ruling, saying that not
all errors and inaccuracies should warrant a court ordering a new EIS.
The Court pointed out that if the Corps had adequately
considered all the data and came to a clearly erroneous conclusion, the
Court could not have ordered an injunction.
"The Court may not rule an EIS inadequate if the
agency has made an adequate compilation of the relevant information, has
analyzed it reasonably, has not ignored pertinent data, and had made
disclosures to the public."
Basically, the court only insures that procedures are
followed, they don't make substantitive or analytical judgments.