Missing Science: Recent NEPA and ESA Failures that halted a pier project

Recently, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez halted work on a steel pier on Maury Island, Washington.  The U.S.

Chinook Salmon

Chinook Salmon

Army Corps of Engineers must prepare a full environmental impact statement for this project.

Previously, an environmental assessment (EA) was completed for the project on June 8, 2008, and a Section 10 permit was issued on July 2, 2008.  Under the terms of the permit, work on the pier could not resume until August 15 to protect the threatened Puget Sound Chinook, which was supposedly “minimally present” after this date.

Judge Martinez wrote that “What is missing here is science” and ruled that a hard look was not taken at the environmental impacts of this project.  Below are specific problems that were documented in the Court’s ruling.

  • Failure to consider the construction impacts on juvenile Chinook
  • Failure to analyze construction noise impacts
  • Failure to analyze operational noise and its effect on juvenile salmon
  • Failure to quantity the disturbance of substrate in the vicinity of eelgrass beds
  • Failure to re-initiate consultation after habitat in the area was designated as Chinook critical habitat
  • Failure to use science to determine Orca presence in the project area
  • Inconsistent treatment of construction noise effects at 180 dB
  • Incorrect assumptions were made in determining Orca critical habitat
  • EA did not evaluation a “no action” alternative
  • EA failed to examine reasonable alternatives
  • EA fails to explain why the project’s cumulative impacts are insignificant

You can find a copy of the Court’s ruling here.

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