Eleventh Circuit Holds that Plaintiff Still Has Standing to Challenge NEPA Review for Completed Project

May 30, 2024
Brandon P. Matsnev, Esq.
MGKF Litigation Blog

The Eleventh Circuit recently addressed the standing requirements for a procedural-rights claim, in this case one arising from an agency’s alleged failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).  In a split 2-1 decision in Center for a Sustainable Coast v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the court held that standing to challenge an agency’s alleged violation of NEPA does not require a showing that a procedural do-over would necessarily redress a substantive injury. No. 22-11079, 2024 WL 1918733 (11th Cir. May 2, 2024).

In what the Court called a “classic procedural rights case,” the Center for a Sustainable Coast filed suit after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted a “letter of permission” to a developer allowing for the construction of a dock next to a planned residential development on Cumberland Island, Georgia. Under the Army Corps’ regulations, letters of permission are categorically excluded from NEPA review but are reserved for projects that pose minimal impacts on environmental values and which encounter no appreciable opposition. Comprised of citizens who regularly visit the Island, the Center argued that the issuance of the letter of permission was inappropriate in this case and that the Army Corps should have conducted a more robust NEPA review.

Read the full blog post.