Description: Lawsuit asserting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to conduct an adequate environmental review for activities intended to maintain a nine-foot deep navigation channel in the Middle Mississippi River Reach of the Mississippi River.
National Wildlife Federation v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 01/22/2022 Memorandum and Order Download Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment denied and defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment granted. Illinois Federal Court Said Corps of Engineers Complied with NEPA and Other Federal Laws for Middle Mississippi River Project. The federal district court for the Southern District of Illinois rejected claims by National Wildlife Federation and other environmental groups that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to comply with NEPA and other statutes when the Corps approved the 2017 Regulating Works Project, which involves activities to maintain a navigation channel in the Middle Mississippi River. The court’s decision did not mention the plaintiffs’ climate change-specific arguments, which included that the final supplemental EIS failed to evaluate the project’s impacts in conjunction with climate change on the Middle Mississippi River’s “vital side channels.” The court concluded, however, that the Corps took a hard look at the science of whether the project would cause increased flooding and that the plaintiffs’ allegations concerning this issue and NEPA violations were “unpersuasive.” The court also found that the Corps did not violate the Water Resources Development Act, the Fish & Wildlife Coordination Act, or the 1927 Rivers & Harbors Act. 08/18/2021 Reply Download Reply brief filed by federal defendants in support of motion for summary judgment. 06/30/2021 Reply Download Plaintiffs filed memorandum in opposition to federal defendants' motion for summary judgment and reply in support of plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. 05/14/2021 Motion for Summary Judgment Download Memorandum filed by federal defendants in opposition to plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and in support of federal defendants' motion for summary judgment. 02/15/2021 Motion for Summary Judgment Download Memorandum filed by plaintiffs in support of motion for summary judgment. 05/13/2020 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Environmental Groups Said Corps of Engineers Failed to Consider Climate Change Impacts of Work in Middle Mississippi River. In a lawsuit filed in federal district court in the Southern District of Illinois, environmental groups asserted that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was violating the National Environmental Policy Act by conducting activities intended to maintain a nine-foot deep navigation channel in the 195-mile Middle Mississippi River Reach of the Mississippi River without completing an adequate environmental review. Among other shortcomings, the complaint alleged that the final supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) issued in 2017 failed to evaluate the impacts of climate change in conjunction with the Corps’ activities on the Middle Mississippi River’s side channels despite “overwhelming science confirming that climate change is having an extremely significant impact on the Middle Mississippi River and its vital side channels.” The complaint also alleged that the SEIS failed to evaluate impacts to birds and waterfowl, including by failing to account for the cumulative effects of climate change. The plaintiffs contended that the SEIS should have assessed whether the activities conducted by the Corps would make the Middle Mississippi River and species that rely on it less resilient to climate change. They also said the review should have addressed the implications of the Middle Mississippi’s susceptibility to increased extreme weather due to climate change. In addition, the complaint asserted claims under the Water Resources Development Act, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and the 1927 Rivers and Harbors Act.