of I-66 Suit Affirmed by Appeals Court
Contact: Miriam Gennari, Press Secretary, Virginia Green Party, 703-549-1422, firstname.lastname@example.org
Richmond, VA (October 15, 2010) - On October 7, 2010 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an earlier district court decision authorizing construction of the I-66 Spot Improvement Project. This long delayed decision -- Green Party pro se Plaintiffs Audrey Clement and John Reeder had filed their appeal exactly five months earlier -- was expected. What was unexpected was the court's decision not to publish its opinion, as the courts are rarely at a loss for words in quashing environmental challenges, especially those involving road projects.
The effect of an unpublished opinion is that the decision cannot be used as precedent in any other case. But this actually operates in VDOT's favor, since it establishes a new precedent that whenever a transportation agency violates the law -- as VDOT did in failing to produced an environmental assessment on the I-66 Spot Improvement Project -- the court can simply approve the project without stating its reasons. This effectively frees transportation agencies throughout the Fourth Circuit from the reporting requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The Fourth Circuit has given them license to operate above the law. The decision in Clement v. LaHood is another big win for VDOT and the developers it represents and another big loss for the environment.
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GPVA Press Secretary: Miriam