A federal court in Illinois has rejected an Administrative Procedure Act challenge to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) permit issued to a waste management company under section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Am. Bottom Conservancy v. Corps, No. 09-603 (S.D. Ill. 9/30/10). The permit allowed the expansion of an existing landfill in East St. Louis, Illinois.
Plaintiff, a not-for-profit organization, alleged that the Corps violated the CWA by approving the construction of a new landfill in connection with defendant waste company’s plan to excavate surrounding wetlands to cover an existing landfill. The complaint also alleged that the Corps failed to properly consider the environmental effects of the existing landfill’s expansion and arbitrarily approved wetlands destruction. Defendant waste company argued that it is not seeking to construct a new landfill, but to excavate 2 million cubic yards of soil to cover the existing site when it reaches capacity in 2012. Defendant also argues that the permit is narrowly drawn and that the Corps properly considered the environmental impacts of the expansion.
The court determined that plaintiff lacked standing to sue, in part because plaintiff’s claim incorrectly stated that defendant waste company was going to construct a new landfill and destroy wetlands. The court pointed out that the permit allowed the excavation of roughly 18.4 acres of wetlands to cover the existing landfill and left 8.4 acres of wetlands untouched. It also contains a wetland mitigation plan “creating an additional 36.55 acres on adjacent property.” According to the court, plaintiff therefore failed to establish imminent injury, leaving the court without jurisdiction.