Late Friday afternoon, a U.S. District Court ruled against Black Warrior Riverkeeper Inc., a local Alabama environmental group, in their request to block the start of construction for the Northern Beltline.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the permit for the first phase of construction on the beltline in September of last year. Less than a month later, theSouthern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of Black Warrior Riverkeeper challenging the permit and seeking to block construction.
The lawsuit was based on the premise that beginning the first phase of construction — a 1.8 mile segment joining State Roads 79 and 75 — violated requirements in the National Environmental Policy Act stating that environmental impact studies must be performed before permits can be granted. The Corps of Engineers had conducted such a study on the first segment of construction, but not the entire 51-mile project.
The court found that “requiring the Corps to prepare [a study for each section of the beltline ahead of time] would likely result in the project never being started at all and would be useless and redundant.”