The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a district court decision that struck down the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) record of decision and the U.S. Forest Service’s plan to grant a right of way for an access project adding 51 miles to an Alaska highway. See. Alaska Conservation Council v. Fed. Highway Admin., No. 09-35551 (9th Cir. 5/4/11). The project would have extended an existing highway, which ends 40 miles outside Juneau, through a national park to an existing state ferry service.
According to the courts, none of the alternatives examined in FWHA’s environmental impact statement (EIS) included a viable and reasonable alternative to the proposed project of enhanced ferry service and failed to provide an adequate justification for its omission, in violation of NEPA. One of the three appellate judges dissented, arguing that the EIS was not arbitrary and capricious in that it dismissed the alternative of enhanced ferry service because that would have meant depriving other areas.