Dock Expansion at Oil Refinery Requires EIS

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) with regard to a proposal for a doubling of the dock space at an oil refinery on Puget Sound. The refinery had one dock that it utilized for both offloading crude oil from tankers and loading refined product. The refinery sought a permit from the Corps to build a second dock so that the two functions could be performed separately, reducing congestion and wait-time. The Corps granted the permit, finding that there was no likelihood of an adverse impact on the environment. An environmental advocacy brought suit, asserting that the expansion would lead to increased environmental risk. The court found that the Corps cannot avoid preparing an EIS by making conclusory assertions that an activity will have only an insignificant impact on the environment. It should be noted that the court did not prohibit the Corps from ultimately granting the permit for the dock. It only decreed that the Corps must fully study the issue and the options prior to making a decision on whether to grant a permit. Ocean Advocates v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 01-36133 (Source: HK Law)

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