The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has approved a plan by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (US DA) for a fourth dam on the Lost River in West Virginia, ruling that the agency complied with procedures required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NE PA). Webster v. USDA, No. 11-1739 (4th Cir. 7/13/12). The court rejected claims by seven individuals who argued that their land would be adversely affected by the Lost River Subwatershed Project, which originally called for construction of five dams.
In 1974, US DA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS ) issued an environmental impact statement (EIS ) on the project and since then, three dams have been built. In 2009, NRCS prepared a supplemental EIS and issued a record of decision that eliminated one of the proposed dams and authorized construction of the final dam. Plaintiffs argued that US DA and NRCS failed to comply with NE PA. The district court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment and plaintiffs appealed. In affirming the district court, the appeals court held that the agency satisfied all the procedural mandates set forth under NE PA.