enough for the smaller facility studied in the May 1988 environmental assessment.
The January draft of the environmental assessment also explained that some sites were rejected because of problems with flooding. It does not explain whether the entire site was subject to flooding or whether the flooding problems were restricted to only some of the acreage. As one-third of the site eventually selected turned out to be within a floodplain where the Postal Service is forbidden to build unless there is no practicable alternative, a reasoned decision would further explain the nature of the flooding at the rejected sites and distinguish it from the potential for flooding at the McDade site. Instead, the drafters of the May 1988 EA avoided that discussion by declining to mention flooding as a reason for rejecting any of the potential alternative sites.
It may well be that by late 1987 the McDade site was the only site that met the Postal Service's operational needs. We do not mean to suggest that the Postal Service is obligated to prepare a full environmental assessment or otherwise catalog all the strengths and weaknesses of each site that Postal Service officials looked at and rejected. It is enough that the Postal Service set forth enough of an explanation to enable a reviewing court to understand the basis and rationality of the rejection. Public resources need not be committed to belaboring the obvious. But the May 1988 environmental assessment fails to adequately explain why the Postal Service rejected some of the alternative sites it surveyed.
b. The Brandt Site
After the Postal Service completed its May 1988 environmental assessment, it agreed to consider the Brandt site in Palatine. The Postal Service's Alternative Site Evaluation Study,
dated July 14, 1988, concluded that the Brandt site was a viable alternative. Eventually, the Postal Service decided to reject the Brandt site. The record does not reveal why the Postal Service made that decision or whether the Postal Service compared the environmental impact of building at the two sites. Without an explanation, we have no basis upon which we could conclude that the Postal Service's decision to reject the Brandt site was a reasoned decision made after a hard look at the relevant factors. Consequently, the Postal Service could be entitled to summary judgment on this portion of Palatine's claim only if it had no legal duty to consider the Brandt site.
The Postal Service argues that any legal duty to consider alternative sites does not include a duty to consider the Brandt site, as it was not part of the original process of reviewing sites. We agree with the general proposition that an agency's duty to consider alternatives must at some point come to an end so that a decision, once properly made, can be put into action. Yet even when agencies prepare a full environmental impact statement, they may sometimes be required to consider previously unavailable information that may require revised conclusions. See Marsh v. Oregon Natural Resources Council, 490 U.S. 360, 109 S. Ct. 1851, 1858, 104 L. Ed. 2d 377 (1989). In entertaining the Postal Service's argument here, we will assume that the May 1988 EA properly documented the Postal Service's consideration and rejection of alternative sites, and that the Postal Service could have proceeded on the McDade site without violating NEPA or the regulations of the Postal Service.
We do not need to decide whether NEPA always requires an agency to consider a new site, like the Brandt site, that is proposed for the first time by an adversely affected community at this late date in the planning process. In this particular case, the Postal Service agreed to consider the Brandt site and concluded that it was a viable alternative. The fact that the Postal Service agreed to consider and study the Brandt site demonstrates that the decisionmaking process for planning a new facility was not yet so advanced that consideration of alternative sites was impractical or unreasonable. The project was at a stage where the Postal Service still had "a meaningful opportunity to weigh" the environmental consequences of alternatives. See Marsh, 109 S. Ct. at 1858, quoting TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 188 n. 34, 57 L. Ed. 2d 117, 98 S. Ct. 2279 (1978). Thus, when the Postal Service agreed to study the Brandt site, section 102(2)(E) of NEPA governed the decisionmaking process. The Postal Service cannot escape the requirements of NEPA simply by asserting that the Brandt site was not a contending site and was not part of the original site review process.
For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that under NEPA and binding administrative regulations, the Postal Service was obligated to study alternatives, and that obligation included an obligation to study alternative sites. We therefore reject the Postal Service's motion to dismiss count IV. As the record does not permit us to conclude that the Postal Service complied with its legal duties, we also deny Postal Service's motion for summary judgment on count IV.
D. Count II
We deal with count II briefly, because full consideration of the issues it raises is premature. The Postal Service is entitled to judgment on count II only if we rule that as a matter of law, the facility will not "significantly" affect the human environment. We have specified our concerns about the May 1988 EA, particularly in view of the unsettled nature of the current plans for the facility. The fact that the May 1988 EA is not complete, however, does not establish that an EIS is either necessary or unnecessary. The Postal Service's motion to dismiss or for summary judgment on count II is therefore denied without prejudice.
E. Count V
In count V, Palatine alleges that the Postal Service failed to comply with the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, Executive Order No. 12372, and the corresponding administrative regulations of the Postal Service. The Postal Service moves to dismiss on the grounds that violation of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act does not constitute grounds for injunctive relief. Alternatively, the Postal Service moves for summary judgment on the ground that the record demonstrates that the Postal Service fully complied with its duties under the Act, the Executive Order, and its own administrative regulations.
1. Motion to Dismiss
We have read the district court cases that the Postal Service cites to persuade us that violations of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act cannot provide a basis for injunctive relief. See Azzolina v. U.S. Postal Service, 602 F. Supp. 859, 863 (D.N.J. 1985); Township of Clinton v. U.S. Postal Service, 638 F. Supp. 763, 767 (D.N.J. 1986). We agree with Palatine that these cases do not invariably bar injunctive relief. Furthermore, it has been held that injunctive relief can be appropriate when agencies of the United States government, and specifically the Postal Service, fail to comply with the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act. See City of Rochester v. U.S. Postal Service, 541 F.2d 967, 976 (2d Cir. 1976). Because we agree with the Second Circuit's analysis, we conclude that injunctive relief can be appropriate. Palatine has therefore stated a claim on which relief can be granted, and accordingly we decline to dismiss count V.
2. Summary Judgment
In the alternative, the Postal Service contends that the record shows that it has fully complied with the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, the Executive Order issued under it, and the corresponding administrative regulations. In City of Rochester, supra, the court explained that under the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act
the agency has an affirmative obligation to develop a reviewable record, including a list of the factors which support its decision to act in disharmony with local planning objectives, so that a reviewing court can determine whether the agency has acted arbitrarily or capriciously in claiming it has fully considered, but rejected, local planning objectives.