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Sierra Club v. Antwerp

    Brief Fact Summary.

    The Sierra Club sued the U.S. Army Corp of Engineer for issuing a permit to fill wetlands in Florida claiming that the permit violated the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A permit must consider both the issues required by federal law and make a permit decision that isn’t arbitrary in order for a permit to be arbitrary under federal law.

    Facts.

    The U.S. Army Corp of Engineer (Corps) issued a permit allowing to fill wetlands in Florida in order to construct a mall. The Sierra Club and other entities sued claiming that the permit violated the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. The lower court granted summary judgment for the Corps.

    Issue.

    Whether a permit must consider both the issues required by federal law and make a permit decision that isn’t arbitrary in order for a permit to be arbitrary under federal law?

    Held.

    Yes. The case is remanded. The Clean Water Act fails because the Corps weighed all possible alternatives before issuing the permit. The Endangered Species Act also fails because the Corps has taken action to prevent jeopardizing the wood stork. However further consideration is needed because the Corps did not take any preventative measures to ensure the safety of the indigo snake.

    Discussion.

    Under the Clean Water Act, if there is a less damaging way to complete the project that is economical, then the permit will be denied. The Endangered Species Act requires that a permit does not jeopardize endangered species.


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