141-Page Environmental Report Was Legally Sufficient for Small Scale Project


On June 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided the case of Highway J Citizens Group, et al., v. U. S. Department of Transportation. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the District Court’s oral ruling that the Wisconsin highway renovation project was subject to the U. S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) “categorical exclusion” rule, meaning that the 141-page environmental report produced for USDOT for this small scale project–which determined that it was unnecessary to prepare a formal environmental impact statement–was legally sufficient. USDOT concluded that the construction of this project would not have any significant environmental impacts. Moreover, whenever someone opposes a project, the law only requires that an appropriate environmental study be prepared, and this lengthy report satisfies that standard.