News | June 26, 2009

Federal government drops its appeal of the court ruling overturning the permit

In a final blow to the controversial proposal to build a massive reservoir in King William County, the U.S. Department of Justice has said it will not appeal a court ruling from March overturning the Army Corps of Engineers permit for the project.

The decision brings to a close almost two decades of a legal battle waged by SELC and others on behalf of conservation groups and other stakeholders to stop construction of the 1,500-acre reservoir, which would have destroyed more than 400 acres of wetlands and many miles of streams, and harmed Native American interests in the Mattaponi and Pamunky rivers watersheds.

On March 31, the U.S. District Court in Washington overturned the permit the city had received from the Corps in 2005. The judge said the agency had acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner in deciding several issues, including the need for the project.  The judge also found the Environmental Protection Agency acted without basis in not vetoing the permit. The U.S. DOJ, on behalf of the Corps and EPA, filed an appeal of ruling earlier in June. On June 25, it said it plans to withdraw that appeal.

The court sent the permit back to the Corps for thorough review in light of the the ruling. However, following the news that the DOJ was dropping its appeal, officials with Newport News told the media that the project “has no future.”