Monday, December 8, 2008

South Carolina Wildlife Federation v. Limehouse

Dec 5: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, Case No. 07-1431. The South Carolina Wildlife Federation and co-plaintiffs (collectively SCWF) brought suit against Federal and state agencies and agency directors, alleging violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), arising from the proposed construction of the Briggs-DeLaine-Pearson Connector (the Connector) in South Carolina.

The Appeals Court notes that relevant to the appeal, the Director of the South Carolina Department of Transportation (the Director), who was sued in his official capacity, moved to dismiss the case on the ground that the claims against him were barred by sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. The district court denied the Director’s motion, and he filed this interlocutory appeal. The Appeals Court affirmed the district court decision.

In its analysis, the Appeals Court said, "We conclude SCWF alleged facts sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss for lack of standing. SCWF asserted that construction of the Connector would harm its members’ ability to use and enjoy the relevant area for a variety of educational, scientific, recreational, and aesthetic purposes, and that one or more of its members currently use the land for such purposes." The Appeals Court also said that SCWF has shown that enjoining the Director from proceeding with the construction of the Connector, and requiring the reexamination of the proposal in accordance with NEPA, would redress its procedural and substantive concerns."

The Appeals Court cited the now famous, historic global warming Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA, 127 S.Ct. 1438, 1453 (2007) [
See WIMS 4/2/07] saying, "the redressability of an injury to a procedural right turns on the potential impact of the court’s action on the injury-causing party. Massachusetts v. EPA, 127 S.Ct. 1438, 1453 (2007) (requiring that a litigant seeking to vindicate a procedural right show 'some possibility that the requested relief will prompt the injury-causing party to reconsider' the decision). The Appeals Court concluded, "The district court properly found that SCWF stated a cause of action for prospective relief under NEPA and that the Director was party to the suit. Accordingly, we affirm the order of the district court."

Access the complete opinion (click here).

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