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7th Circuit won’t make Indiana rip up section of I-69

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected environmental activists’ arguments that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately address impact on wetlands when it issued permits for a recently completed section of Interstate 69 in southern Indiana.

The opinion in Hoosier Environmental Council and Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads v. United States Army Corps of Engineers and Indiana Department of Transportation, 12-3187, won’t do anything to slow future construction of I-69 between Evansville and Indianapolis. But the court also pointed out that just because the section of interstate south of Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center is finished, the litigation is not necessarily moot, as the state argued.

“A case is moot only if ‘it is impossible for a court to grant any effectual relief whatever to the prevailing party,” Judge Richard Posner wrote for the panel. “One possibility for relief in this case would be an injunction requiring the defendants to rip up section 3 (of I-69) and recreate the wetlands it has destroyed. … That would be an extreme measure, unlikely to be ordered, but the fact that relief is unlikely does not render a case moot.”

Posner also penned acerbic words for plaintiffs who he said could have challenged the project more effectively earlier.

“We find almost incomprehensible the plaintiffs’ failure, which they do not mention in their briefs and were unable to explain at the oral argument, to have sought a preliminary injunction against the construction of section 3 — or indeed against the construction of any segment of the I-69 project,” he wrote. “A motion for a preliminary injunction might well have been denied, but the denial of a preliminary injunction is immediately appealable and would have brought the litigation to a swifter conclusion. By their lassitude the plaintiffs have increased substantially the cost of the relief they seek, for now that cost would include the cost of destroying section 3; and the cost of an injunction is a material consideration in whether to grant it.”
 
The panel affirmed the ruling of Judge Larry McKinney of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, who held that the Corps evaluated all of the wetland-protection factors required in its approval of a Clean Water Act permit for the recently completed section of the interstate.

“The plaintiffs argue neither that the project as a whole is contrary to the public interest nor that it was sectioned in order to prevent consideration of its total environmental harms,” Posner wrote. “They may be playing a delay game: make the Corps do a public interest analysis from the ground up ... in the hope that at least until the analysis is completed there will be no further construction, so that until then the highway will end at the northernmost tip of section 3 — making it a road to nowhere.”

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  • Road to somewhere
    This is not just about connecting Evansville to Indianapolis, otherwise Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi would not be constructing I-69 in their own states.

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  1. Not enough copperheads here to care anymore, is my guess. Otherwise, a totally pointless gesture. ... Oh wait: was this done because somebody want to avoid bad press - or was it that some weak kneed officials cravenly fear "protest" violence by "urban youths.."

  2. Should be beat this rap, I would not recommend lion hunting in Zimbabwe to celebrate.

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  5. All these sites putting up all the crap they do making Brent Look like A Monster like he's not a good person . First off th fight actually started not because of Brent but because of one of his friends then when the fight popped off his friend ran like a coward which left Brent to fend for himself .It IS NOT a crime to defend yourself 3 of them and 1 of him . just so happened he was a better fighter. I'm Brent s wife so I know him personally and up close . He's a very caring kind loving man . He's not abusive in any way . He is a loving father and really shouldn't be where he is not for self defense . Now because of one of his stupid friends trying to show off and turning out to be nothing but a coward and leaving Brent to be jumped by 3 men not only is Brent suffering but Me his wife , his kids abd step kidshis mom and brother his family is left to live without him abd suffering in more ways then one . that man was and still is my smile ....he's the one real thing I've ever had in my life .....f@#@ You Lafayette court system . Learn to do your jobs right he maybe should have gotten that year for misdemeanor battery but that s it . not one person can stand to me and tell me if u we're in a fight facing 3 men and u just by yourself u wouldn't fight back that you wouldn't do everything u could to walk away to ur family ur kids That's what Brent is guilty of trying to defend himself against 3 men he wanted to go home tohisfamily worse then they did he just happened to be a better fighter and he got the best of th others . what would you do ? Stand there lay there and be stomped and beaten or would u give it everything u got and fight back ? I'd of done the same only I'm so smallid of probably shot or stabbed or picked up something to use as a weapon . if it was me or them I'd do everything I could to make sure I was going to live that I would make it hone to see my kids and husband . I Love You Brent Anthony Forever & Always .....Soul 1 baby

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