Judge grants Preliminary Injunction on Richardson Grove project
The lawsuit was filed by Plaintiffs Environmental Protection Information Center, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, the Center for Biological Diversity and several individuals.
The Court cited a laundry list of reasons for granting the preliminary injunction. Below are some excerpts. Read the 14-page opinion here.
“The construction calls for cut-and-fill techniques. In other words, Caltrans would cut the soil and fill it with sturdy, compact material suitable for highway foundation. This, however, is a main point of contention. (This poses a risk for the root system, which needs loose soil, not compact soil.)”
“A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must show (1) that she is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction, (2) that she is likely to succeed on the merits, (3) that the balance of equities tips in her favor, and (4) that an injunction is in the public interest.”
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated that irreparable harm is likely. They submit a convincing analysis by Dr. Joe McBride, a professor of forestry and landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. After reviewing the [Finding of No Significant Impact], the two arborist reports, and performing an on-site tree-by-tree analysis himself, Dr. McBride determined that “substantial, irreparable damage would occur to the trees in the [p]roject area as a result of the proposed project.”
“Indeed, McBride clarified that 37 trees — 8 of which are old-growth redwoods — ‘would be severely impacted,’ and those severe impacts would “likely include . . . deaths [of trees].” Plaintiffs have provided sufficient information that harm is likely.”
“Nonetheless, at the preliminary injunction stage, plaintiffs must demonstrate irreparable injury and, in this case, they have done so.”
“Plaintiffs’ strongest argument on the merits is that Caltrans violated [National Environmental Policy Act] by (1) not
adequately evaluating the potential environmental impact, and as a result, (2) not completing an EIS. In allegedly miscategorizing the project as having ‘no significant’ effect, Caltrans ended its environmental review with a mere [Environmental Assessment] instead of creating a full [Environmental Impact Statement] analysis.”
“Plaintiffs have raised serious questions concerning whether Caltrans’ statement of reasons was arbitrary and capricious. For example, in its final EA, Caltrans issued a FONSI — a finding of no significant impact. There is too much evidence, however, that the impact would be significant.”
[Photo credit: CalTrans]