Hodges v. Abraham

Decision Date17 June 2002
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 1:02-1426-22.
Citation253 F.Supp.2d 846
PartiesJim HODGES, Governor of the State of South Carolina, in His Official Capacity, Plaintiff, v. Spencer ABRAHAM, Secretary of the Department of Energy, in His Official Capacity and the United States Department of Energy, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of South Carolina

William L. Want, William Want Law Office, Charleston, SC, Lionel S. Lofton, Lofton Law Firm, Charleston, SC, Stephen Potts Bates, Office of the Governor of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, for Plaintiff.

Christie Newman Barrett, Robert F Daley, Jr., U.S. Attorneys Office, Columbia, SC, for Defendants.

Neil C. Robinson, Jr., Nexsen Pruet Jacobs Pollard and Robinson, Charleston, SC, for Movants.

Jay Bender, Baker Ravenel and Bender, Columbia, SC, for Interested Paries.

Robert F Daley, Jr., U.S. Attorneys Office, Columbia, SC, for Counter-Claimant.

William L. Want, William Want Law Office, Lionel S. Lofton, Lofton Law Firm, Charleston, SC, Stephen Potts Bates, Office of the Governor of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, for Counter-Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DOE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING GOVERNOR HODGES' MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

CURRIE, District Judge.

                TABLE OF CONTENTS
                INTRODUCTION...............................................................849
                DISCUSSION ..................................................................850
                I.  DOE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON HODGES'
                COMPLAINT............................................................850
                A. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) .............................851
                B. Standard of Review Under Administrative Procedure Act (APA)...........854
                
                C. History of NEPA Compliance in this Action..............................855
                1. The 1996 S & D PEIS...............................................855
                2. July 1998 Supplement Analysis ......................................857
                3. February 2002 Supplement Analysis..................................858
                4. April 19, 2002 Amended Record of Decision...........................859
                D. Analysis of NEPA Compliance..........................................860
                II.  HODGES' MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION.....................863
                A. Likelihood of Irreparable Harm to Plaintiff..............................864
                B. Likelihood of Harm to Defendant.......................................866
                1. DOE's Arguments as to Harm to DOE Caused by Injunction...........866
                a. Foreign Policy Interests ........................................867
                b. National Security Interests......................................868
                c. Costs and Delay in Rocky Flats Clean-up.........................868
                2. Hodges' Arguments as to Harm to DOE Caused by Injunction..........868
                a. Foreign Policy Interests ........................................869
                b. National Security Interests......................................870
                c. Costs & Delay in Rocky Flats Clean-up ..........................870
                3. Court's Analysis of Harm to DOE if Injunction Granted...............870
                a. Harm to Foreign Policy Interests................................871
                b. Harm to National Security......................................872
                c. Substantial Additional Costs and Delay in Rocky Flats Cleanup
                .............................................................................872
                d. Disruption of Planned Activities at SRS..........................873
                e. Conclusion as to Harm to Defendant.............................873
                C. Balance of Harms to Parties............................................873
                D. Likelihood of Success on the Merits.....................................874
                E. Public Interest.........................................................874
                F. The Equitable Balance.................................................874
                CONCLUSION.................................................................874
                
INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Jim Hodges, the Governor of South Carolina (Hodges), initiated this action on May, 1, 2002, challenging the April 19, 2002, Amended Record of Decision (April 19, 2002 ROD) by Defendants, Spencer Abraham, Secretary of the Department of Energy and the United States Department of Energy (collectively DOE), to, inter alia, transfer six metric tons of surplus plutonium from Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site ("Rocky Flats") to the Savannah River Site ("SRS") in South Carolina for long-term storage. Specifically, Hodges asserts that the April 19, 2002 ROD was issued in violation of both the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-4370d (NEPA), and the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 702 et seq. (APA).

This matter came before the court for hearing on June 13, 2002, on Hodges' motion for preliminary injunction and DOE's motion for summary judgment on the complaint. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court ruled from the bench, granting DOE's motion for summary judgment and denying Hodges' motion for a preliminary injunction.1 Two other pending motions were also ruled on orally at the time of the hearing and have been dealt with by separate orders: DOE's motion for summary judgment on its counterclaim; and DOE's motion to seal certain portions of the record.

At the time of the hearing DOE had indicated an intent to begin immediate shipments of the Rocky Flats plutonium to SRS as early as June 15, 2002.2 DOE has since agreed to defer shipments to no sooner than June 22, 2002.

The long-term storage addressed by the April 19, 2002 ROD is independent of any plan to process the surplus plutonium for disposition (at SRS or elsewhere). Prior to April 19, 2002, existing RODs addressed storage pending disposition under a hybrid approach consisting of both immobilization and a program for converting the plutonium to Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX). Prior RODs also placed conditions on transfer of Rocky Flats plutonium to SRS relative to insuring transfer would not occur unless an immobilization facility was to be located in South Carolina. The most recent ROD, however, cancels plans for immobilization. It also acknowledges that plans for the MOX conversion process are no longer certain as cancellation of immobilization has resulted in the need to redesign MOX with a concomitant need to perform proper environmental studies of the new MOX process as required by NEPA.3 Thus, the storage authorized by the challenged April 19, 2002 ROD must be analyzed as approval of long-term storage which might extend indefinitely.4

In his complaint, Hodges argues that the April 19, 2002 ROD is illegal because: (1) no proper environmental analysis of the potential impact of the currently planned long-term storage has been conducted as required by NEPA (first cause of action); (2) no supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) was prepared to address the changes relative to an earlier Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (second cause of action); (3) prior RODs which imposed conditions on storage of additional surplus plutonium at SRS have not been properly amended to eliminate the conditions (third cause of action); (4) the decision contained in the ROD violates the APA as it is arbitrary and capricious; and (5) the manner in which the decision was made violates the APA because it violates the due process rights of the State.5

DISCUSSION
I. DOE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON HODGES' COMPLAINT

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED.R.CIV.P. 56(C). It is well established that summary judgment should be granted "only when it is clear that there is no dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Properties, 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir.1987).

The party moving for summary judgment has the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, and the court must view the evidence before it and the inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962). When the defendant is the moving party and the plaintiff has the ultimate burden of proof on an issue, the defendant must identify the parts of the record that demonstrate the plaintiff lacks sufficient evidence. The nonmoving party, here the plaintiff, must then go beyond the pleadings and designate "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED.R.CIV.P. 56(e); see also generally Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

A party "cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another." Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir.1985). Therefore, "[m]ere unsupported speculation ... is not enough to defeat a summary judgment motion." Ennis v. National Ass'n of Bus. & Educ. Radio, Inc., 53 F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir.1995).

In ruling on summary judgment in the present case, the court must also bear in mind the standard of review applicable to the underlying action which is conducted under Section 706 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and provides in part that "a reviewing court shall ... hold unlawful and set aside agency action, findings, and conclusions found to be—(A) arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law." 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). Further, the Fourth Circuit has clarified:

In determining whether agency action violates § 706(2)(A) of the APA, we perform only the limited, albeit important, task of reviewing agency action to determine whether the agency conformed with controlling statutes, and whether the agency has committed a clear error of judgment.... [T]he ultimate standard of review...

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