Press Release October 31, 2014

Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority Wins Key Environmental Ruling before 9th Circuit

Alston & Bird client Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority won an important appellate court victory in an environmental case that paves the way for a new highway linking the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, two of the nation’s largest and busiest ports.

Affirming a lower court's ruling dismissing the lawsuit – Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. et al. v. United States Department of Transportation et al – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected arguments by plaintiff Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which sued to block the project based on claims that an environmental analysis of the highway ignored the impact of air pollution on neighborhoods next to the highway. The suit named the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), CalTrans and project sponsor the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority as defendants.

In its opinion, the appeals panel found that the DOT and local agencies had properly conducted their qualitative “hot spot” analysis and that it conformed to federal Clean Air Act and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.

Circuit Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote: “NRDC’s arguments, while not without merit, fail to persuade us that during the period at issue in this appeal the EPA interpreted 'any area' in the manner NRDC proposes. Having concluded that the agencies’ interpretation of the appropriate hot spot analysis governs, it is clear that defendants’ conformity determination was neither arbitrary nor capricious.”

Representing Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority in this matter are Alston & Bird partner Jocelyn Thompson and senior counsel Sharon Rubalcava.
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