Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Co. v. Callaway

Citation382 F. Supp. 610
Decision Date06 September 1974
Docket Number74-1191.,Civ. A. No. 74-1190
PartiesATCHISON, TOPEKA AND SANTA FE RAILWAY COMPANY, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Howard H. CALLAWAY et al. Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia


Joseph V. Karaganis, Jon T. Brown, Sanford R. Gail, Joseph D. Feeney, Jr., Chicago, Ill., for plaintiffs.

Irwin Schroeder, Jr., Washington, D. C., Atty., Dept. of Justice, E. Manning Seltzer, Gen. Counsel, Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C., for defendants; Fred R. Disheroon, Asst. Gen. Counsel, Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C., of counsel.


CHARLES R. RICHEY, District Judge.

This case is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction to prevent the Defendants from constructing a 3.2 billion dollar Upper Mississippi River Navigation System and its first component, Locks and Dam 26, located at Alton, Illinois.

On August 6, 1974 two actions were filed in this Court by the Izaak Walton League of America, et al. and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, et al.1 against Howard H. Callaway, Secretary of the Department of the Army, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Lieutenant General William G. Gribble, Chief of Engineers, Department of the Army. On the same day, United States District Judge Howard F. Corcoran issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the letting of bids for the proposed Locks and Dam 26. On August 20, 1974, this Court granted the Plaintiffs' Motion to Consolidate the two cases and a hearing was held on the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. This Court is now faced with the important task of deciding questions of national importance in that they involve a substantial environmental, economic, and social impact upon the entire inland waterway system of the midwestern United States, and the manner by which similar projects in other parts of the nation will be handled in the future by Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers.


Locks and Dam 26 is one of a series of locks and dams extending from Alton, Illinois to St. Paul, Minnesota. Together, these twenty nine locks and dams make commercial traffic possible on the Upper Mississippi River and the Illinois Waterway. Locks and Dam 26, however, as the Defendants have recognized, is the pivotal crossroads of this river complex. This is because it is the first locks and dam to the Upper Mississippi River and serves as the gateway of all commerce. This is not an overstatement. Locks and Dam 26 is a key intersection affecting the total inland waterway system of America's breadbasket. All traffic from the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway must pass through these locks on its way west on the Missouri River, east on the Ohio River, and south on the Lower Mississippi River.2

The existing Locks and Dam 26 was originally authorized by Congress in the 1930's and was operational by 1938. At the present time, it has fallen into an alleged state of deterioration. In 1968, in recognition of the condition of the structure, a report prepared by the Army Corps of Engineers was submitted to the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors and the Secretary of the Army recommended that a new structure, located two miles downstream, be built to replace the existing facility. Agency approval was given in 1969, and in 1970 Congress appropriated funds for planning. A Survey Report and a General Design Memorandum were prepared, followed by a Draft Environmental Impact Statement. In 1974, a Final Environmental Impact Statement was released. And, after hearings before both the House and Senate Subcommittees on Appropriations (Public Works), Congress, on August 15, 1974, appropriated over twenty-two (22) million dollars for the project.3 This money, say the Defendants, will go to the construction of a coffer dam,4 the first major step toward the building of a new Locks and Dam 26. This will take over nine months. The entire structure will not be completed for at least eight years, although the Defendants admit that it will probably be closer to eleven years before the entire facility is operational.5 The total cost of the project has been estimated by the Defendants to be over 383 million dollars.6


The gravamen of the Plaintiffs' claim is that the proposed Locks and Dam 26 is merely the first step in a multibillion dollar project to rebuild the Upper Mississippi River System without specific authorization from Congress in violation of 33 U.S.C. § 401.7 Specifically, the Plaintiffs maintain that the Army Corps of Engineers intends to rebuild the entire system because 1.) the dramatic increase in size and capacity of the new Locks and Dam 26 will so affect the other structures that it will necessitate their rebuilding, 2.) the life expectancy of the entire system, not just Locks and Dam 26, is nearing its end, and 3.) the Corps in other documents, specifically the Upper Mississippi River Comprehensive Basin Study of 1970 (Appendix J), has indicated that the building of a new Locks and Dam 26 will require numerous other structures, or modification of existing structures, in order to cope with the increased capacity.

Plaintiffs further claim that the Army Corps of Engineers has violated Section 209 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1970,8 in that the Corps 1.) ignored the objectives of national economic development and environmental protection, 2.) improperly and inadequately assessed the benefits and costs of the project and, 3.) failed to consider feasible alternatives. Coupled with the above claim, Plaintiffs allege that the Army Corps of Engineers has also violated Section 122 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 19709 by not examining possible adverse economic, environmental, and social effects of the project. And, finally, the Plaintiffs assert that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (hereinafter NEPA)10 has been abridged because the Army Corps of Engineers has insufficiently analyzed and assessed the environmental impact of the proposed Locks and Dam 26 and the system-wide rebuilding. It is Plaintiffs claim that the Corps has illegally attempted to segment the system so as to facilitate its justification and to hide its true intent to rebuild the system from the Congress and the public. Furthermore, Plaintiffs state that the Corps has transgressed the mandates of NEPA by: failing to disclose the data used to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement (hereinafter EIS), thereby impeding public and Congressional scrutiny of the project, using unrealistic and outdated data and thereby rendering the EIS analysis and assessment arbitrary and capricious and because it fails to analyze alternatives or their environmental impact.

The Defendants contest these claims and allege that the proposed rebuilding of Locks and Dam 26 does not need the consent of Congress, but rather is specifically permitted by 33 U.S.C. § 5.11 The Defendants, in the alternative, maintain that even if Section 5 were found to be inapplicable, recent Congressional appropriations are sufficient, albeit implied, authorization for a new Locks and Dam 26. The Defendants strongly protest that this is not a multibillion dollar project encompassing numerous structures, but rather, is singular in nature, even though they admit that other projects are being considered. In response to the alleged violations of Sections 122 and 209 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1970, the Defendants argue that Section 122 is inapplicable because the project was authorized prior to the enactment of the statute thereby exempting the project from its requirements and that, regardless of this technicality, the Corps has given adequate treatment to the factors contained in Sections 122 and 209.

The Defendants also dispute the claimed violations of NEPA on the grounds that the plaintiffs have not borne their burden of proving a lack of reasonable, good faith compliance and that the EIS is sufficient because the alleged omissions were considered and discussed in an appropriate manner and because the Corps had a right to omit certain information as beyond the scope of reasonable concern.


In order to decide whether Congressional consent is required, the relationship between 33 U.S.C. §§ 5 and 401 must be examined and understood. Under the latter Section, Congressional consent is required before the commencement of construction of any dam or other structure in a navigable river of the United States.12 The word any, in regard to this case, is crucial. On its face, Section 401 would appear to prohibit the building of any structures, even by the Federal government, without prior Congressional approval. However, Section 5 permits the Army Corps of Engineers to entirely reconstruct a dam or other structure, that is to build a dam or other structure in place of an existing structure, without the consent of Congress when, due to its condition, reconstruction is "absolutely essential" to its efficient and economical maintenance and operation, and further permits the Corps to make modifications in plan and location as "may be necessary to provide adequate facilities for existing navigation." Thus the word any in Section 401 is qualified by Section 5, to the extent that the criteria of Section 5 are met. A critical distinction can, therefore, be drawn between reconstructing under Section 5 and what may be characterized as rebuilding under Section 401, the latter term being a designation for those replacement structures which do not meet the criteria of Section 5.

The Defendants would have this Court hold that since the present Locks and Dam 26 is considered by the Corps to be obsolete, its replacement is within the ambit of Section 5, requiring no specific authorization.13 This argument hinges...

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