Advocates for Transportation Alternatives, Inc. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

453 F. Supp. 2d 289 (2006)

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Advocates for Transportation Alternatives, Inc. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
453 F. Supp. 2d 289 (2006)

Facts

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) sought to restore commuter rail service on the Greenbush Line between Braintree and Scituate, Massachusetts (the Greenbush project). As part of the Greenbush project’s commuter rail restoration, MBTA applied to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (corps) (defendants) for a permit pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA) to discharge dredged or fill material into waters and wetlands (the permit). The corps examined the environmental impacts of the MBTA’s proposed activities and prepared an environmental assessment to determine whether an environmental-impact statement (EIS) was required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The corps considered the adverse impacts of the Greenbush project on wetlands, historic resources, property values, and other environmental and social impacts. The Greenbush project would have had adverse impacts including the introduction of noise, vibration, traffic, and aesthetic impacts, on historic properties and historic districts in the area. The impacts would not cause damage to historic structures, and the MBTA would take mitigation measures to minimize cosmetic impacts. The corps determined that the impacts did not rise to the level of NEPA significance, and the Greenbush project did not require an EIS because approval of the permit was not a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. Advocates for Transportation Alternatives, Inc. (Advocates) (plaintiff) alleged that the corps’s finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and the corps’s failure to prepare an EIS were arbitrary and an abuse of discretion. Advocates and the corps both filed motions for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Young, J.)

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