New Jersey, Dept. of Environmental Protection v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Date: January 13th, 2011

Topic: Environmental Assessment

Type: Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Jurisdiction: New Jersey

Citation: New Jersey, Dept. of Environmental Protection v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2011 WL 115878 (D.N.J. January 13, 2011)

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) and environmental NGOs filed actions under the Administrative Procedure Act to challenge the U.S. Army Corp of Engineer’s (the “Corps”) determinations under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), Coastal Zone Management Act (“CZMA”), Clean Water Act (“CWA”), and the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) regarding the Delaware River Mainstem and Channel Deepening Project to deepen the Delaware River. The plaintiffs argued that the Corps’ Environmental Assessment, and its decision to prepare a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were arbitrary, capricious, and in violation of NEPA’s requirements. The Court rejected these arguments and found that the Corps decision to classify changes in the project as not significant and therefore not triggering an EIS was not arbitrary or capricious. The Court rejected the plaintiffs’ CZMA claims by referencing a memorandum of understanding between NJDEP and the Corps that the Corps had complied with in its assessment. Finally, the Court rejected the plaintiffs’ CWA and CAA claims on the basis that the Corps fell into an exception for discharge permits under section 404 and complied with all necessary regulations. The Court held that none of the Corps’ decisions were arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion and therefore did not violate the APA, and granted the Defendant’s summary judgment motion.