As right-to-work protests echoed through the Indiana
"Governor Daniels' announcement tonight about the
creation of the Bicentennial Nature Trust is the capstone of a truly
extraordinary conservation agenda for his administration," the group's
state director Mary McConnell
McConnellsaid in a news release issued after the address.
"From the establishment of Goose Pond
Pondin Greene County to his visionary Healthy Rivers Initiative to protect
and make accessible a hundred miles of floodplain along the Wabash River,
Governor Daniels has created a legacy that will be cherished by Hoosiers for
the next 200 years."
As a sequel to the statewide parks system the state
established on the 100th anniversary of its founding, Daniels said
his administration identified $20 million in existing state funding to
establish the trust meant to inspire additional private donations of money and
land "in a continuing statewide surge of conservation" as the state
nears its 2016 bicentennial.
The state's Bicentennial Commission, chaired by Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman
Gov. Becky Skillmanand former U.S. Congressman Lee Hamilton, will oversee
Daniels noted that his administration plans to supervise the
conservation of more than 50,000 acres by the end of 2012. He offered the 8,064-acre
Goose Pond near Linton, Muscatatuck Bottoms, which targets
more than 25,000 acres, and the Wabash Corridor, which is set to protect more
than 43,000 acres along the Wabash River,
Regarding I-69, Daniels did not have much to say except that
it will soon be open from Evansville to Crane Naval Base.
Within the next few weeks and months, however, a group of
federal and administrative law judges will weigh in on several pending
complaints issues by the Hoosier Environmental Council,
Environmental Council,Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads and scores of
property owners against the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway
Administration, Indiana Department of Transportation and Indiana Department of
[See the next page for a summary of the status, possible outcomes and jurisdiction on the ongoing cases.]
Here is summary of what the courts will consider:
CARR et al v. the
U.S. DOT, INDOT and the FHA
Cause No. 1:11-CV-1031-SEB-DML
The lawsuit takes the current set of I-69 environmental
impact studies to task, suggesting that they are based on outdated data and did
not take proper account of the region's fragile and porous karst terrain or the affected historic
and archaeological sites.
In addition, the suit alleges: "INDOT and FHWA and
their contractors have engaged in a pattern of entering onto private property
without permission or knowledge of the landowners for archaeological
investigations and removing artifacts from those private properties without
consent from or the knowledge of the landowners, in violations of State and
The first third of the 63-page lawsuit introduces each of
the plaintiffs and outlines their personal concerns with the project. This
litany of complaints centers on the irreplaceable quality of life, place and
environment the plaintiffs enjoy on properties affected by the project, as well
as the environmental burden the highway's construction and operation would
place on local land, water and air resources.
The suit then moves into specific counts, charging violation
— and in some cases multiple violations — of the Clean Air Act,
Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative
Procedures Act and the Transportation Act.
"Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law," the
suit states. "Unless this Court grants the requested relief, the
defendants' actions will cause irreparable harm to the environment, to
plaintiffs' and their members' interests, and to the public in violation of
federal law and contrary to the public interest. No monetary damages or other
legal remedy could adequately compensate plaintiffs, their members or the
public for these harms."
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana – Judge Sarah Evans
The court has scheduled a hearing on a Motion for Preliminary Injunction at 10
a.m. on Feb. 8 in Room #216 of the U.S. District Courthouse at 46 E. Ohio St.
If granted, the motion would prevent further implementation of design,
construction or land acquisition until the trial is completed.
HEC v. U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and INDOT
Construction on Section Three, ranging from Washington to
Newberry in southern Greene County, is ongoing, but not yet near completion.
HEC contends the Corps is in violation of the Clean Water
Act because it did not conduct an independent analysis of how the construction
will affect water crossings and wetlands. The federal and the state government
contend they are in compliance with the law.
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana – Judge Larry J.
Current Status: Arguments
on a Motion for Summary Judgment will be heard at 2 p.m. on March 16 in Room
349 of the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.
If granted, the motion would require the Corps to conduct an independent
analysis of environmental impacts. A victory for HEC could halt activity around
waterways until the Corp's independent review either validates or rejects the
existing plan. Another interpretation holds that the Clean Water Act's
requirements for evaluation of and selection of the least damaging alternative
may mean killing the project or using a different route.
HEC v. the Army Corps
The issues in the case are essentially the same as those
raised by HEC in the other federal case it brought against the Corps, but apply
to construction in the waterways of Section Two from Oakland City to
"The Corps basically just relied on the environmental
studies done by INDOT with no independent assessment," said Tim Maloney, HEC's senior policy director.
Rather than offer a critical analysis, Maloney said, "they
just rubberstamped what INDOT approved."
The Corps has yet to file its response.
District Court, Southern District of Indiana
Complaint filed. Defense response due Jan. 17.
This decision will dictate what happens with Corps permit review process. See
HEC and Property
Owners v. INDOT and the IDNR
Numbers: 11-067W and FW-25881
This complaint, which combined two separate complaints on
similar issues, questions the validity of flood plain construction permits on
the East Fork of the White River in Section Two. Among the issues petitioners
hope to debate: whether the construction "will cause unreasonable harm to
life, safety and property ..." They also claim construction approval was
given without securing flood easements and that the staged permitting pursued
by INDOT allowed construction to proceed before all easements were secure to
complete the project ... (which) "exceeds the Department's authority and is
State administrative proceeding before an administrative law judge
Current Status: A
Jan. 18 conference call between the judge and the parties in
the case is expected to set a hearing date.
The administrative law judge could order the permit overturned or changes in
the permit to address the petitioners' objections.