U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch in Denver issued a ruling Tuesday overturning a 2007 environmental analysis of stepping up training at its Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. The ruling says the Army didn’t adequately assess the environmental impacts of the increased intensity and duration of training.
The ruling comes in a challenge by area ranchers who argued that the military didn’t seriously consider the effects of the plan.
The ranchers, members of the group Not 1 More Acre!, also oppose the Army’s proposal to expand the 370-square-mile training site to 525 square miles. Colorado legislators passed a law this year barring the selling or leasing of state-owned land for the expansion.
But the environmental impact statement addressed just the proposed increase in training and facilities at the existing site. Matsch said the analysis didn’t adequately explore the potential impacts, making the Army’s decision “arbitrary and capricious.” Army News, September 9, 2009
This opinion should be a fascinating read for those interested in challenging the government environmental assessment process. Rarely can one find a court making a determination that the government’s decision is “arbitrary and capricious”. It sure would be nice if government agencies were held to this standard when deciding to acquire property in eminent domain proceedings!