argument. There is no basis to conclude that defendants' failure to undertake such a study was arbitrary or capricious.
IV. ADEQUACY OF THE 4(F) EVALUATION
Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act prohibits the Secretary of Transportation from approving any project requiring use of a public park, recreation area or any significant historic site unless: "(1) there is no prudent and feasible alternative to using that land; and (2) the . . . project includes all possible planning to minimize harm" to the protected land. 49 U.S.C. § 303. Both parties admit that section 4(f) is implicated in this case. Pl. 12(M) P 42. The question is whether there are any prudent or feasible alternatives to construction of the tollroad.
Defendants argue that the final impact statement's analysis of alternatives was adequate because none of the alternatives met the transportation needs identified in the final impact statement. However, for the reasons explained above, the needs identified in the final impact statement have not been adequately justified and thus cannot serve as the basis for finding alternatives imprudent. Accordingly, the final impact statement fails to satisfy section 4(f) of the Transportation Act.
V. REFUSAL TO RECONSIDER
Plaintiffs argue that defendants' failure to consider new information supplied in the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission's draft report was arbitrary and capricious. This draft report indicates that the population forecast used in the final impact statement underestimated the development that would occur in the corridor as a direct result of construction of the tollroad.
As the discussion above makes clear, defendants must either provide additional studies to justify their conclusions as to ozone production and the purposes of the project or explain why such studies are not possible. That analysis would necessarily include the type of information contained in the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission's draft report. While that analysis need not necessarily include the information in the draft report, it must include an analysis of a similar kind or explain why an analysis is not possible.
Environmental laws are not arbitrary hoops through which government agencies must jump. The environmental regulations at issue in this case are designed to ensure that the public and government agencies are well-informed about the environmental consequences of proposed actions. The environmental impact statements in this case fail in several significant respects to serve this critical purpose.
Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is granted, and defendants' motion for summary judgment is denied. Judgment is entered in favor of plaintiffs Sierra Club, South Corridor Against the Tollway, Inc., Environmental Law and Policy Center of the Midwest, and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest and against defendants United States Department of Transportation, Federico Pena, Federal Highway Administration, Rodney Slater, Michael Cook, Kirk Brown, and Julian D'Esposito. Defendants are directed either to produce studies justifying their conclusions as to the proposed tollroad's purposes and as to ozone production or explain why such critical studies are not possible.
Suzanne B. Conlon
United States District Judge
January 16, 1997
JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE
Decision by Court. This action came to a hearing before the Court. The issues have been heard and a decision has been rendered.
IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that judgment is entered in favor of plaitniffs Sierra Club, South Corridor Against the Tollway, Inc., Environmental Law and Policy Center of the Midwest, and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest and against defendants United States Department of Transportation, Federico Pena, Federal Highway Administration, Rodney Slater, Michael Cook, Kirk Brown, and Julian D'Esposito.
January 16, 1997