Americus Brief from SELC

Adapted from the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

In February 2004, in the DC Federal District Court, Judge Jackson ruled valid the settlement agreement reached between the Southeastern Power Customers (SEPC), the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and Georgia, despite related issues having been stayed by a federal court in Alabama.

The settlement reallocates water in Lake Lanier for metro Atlanta’s municipal uses and determines what municipalities will pay for that water. Alabama and Florida have appealed Jackson’s order to the DC Circuit Court. ARA, along with three other members of the Tristate Conservation Coalition, were granted leave to file an amici (friends of the court) in late 2004.

Represented by counsel from the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and Turner Environmental Law Clinic, ARA, along with Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and Apalachicola Baykeeper are focusing primarily on environmental issues and responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This federal law requires that an environmental impact statement (EIS) be prepared prior to permitting any major environmental action. Our argument focuses on the fact that an EIS has not been prepared  and that no study has been done to consider potentially harmful impacts to the river, aquatic life, and downstream users that may stem from the settlement agreement, and its allocation of a substantial portion of the Lake’s capacity.

Oral argument took place on February 8, 2005, but it may be many months before the D.C. Circuit rules on this matter.