Danedri Thompson
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Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt weighed in on the Intermodal project last week filing a brief with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver asking justices to reject a lawsuit to block construction of the project.
The lawsuit, filed by environmental groups, including Hillsdale Environmental Loss Protection (HELP) and the National Resource Defense Council, challenges the approval of an environmental permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.
A federal district court in Kansas City has sided with the Corps, allowing the project to proceed, but the environmental group has appealed that ruling.
“Kansas has established the necessary standards to protect the health and safety of its citizens and the neighboring states. Kansas has met all the requirements…,” Schmidt wrote in his brief to the court.
Mark Duggan, an attorney for HELP, said he will file a brief reply to the A.G.’s brief, and then they’ll wait for a ruling from the court.
The A.G’s Office, Duggan said, doesn’t have the automatic right to file a brief on behalf of the project. Instead, he said, Schmidt’s office filed a request to do so and sent the brief as an attachment.
According to a press release from the A.G.’s Office, Schmidt’s brief specifically objects to attempts the intermodal project’s opponents to have the Court apply California air-quality standards to a Kansas project.
““Recognizing the important public policy considerations behind air pollution control, [Kansas law] firmly places the decision to impose stricter standards than provided by [federal law] in the hands of the Kansas Legislature – not the State of California,” Schmidt wrote.
But Duggan said Schmidt’s argument is a red herring.
“The plaintiffs in this case have never argued that,” Duggan said. “The state of Kansas position strikes me a little bit as grandstanding.”
Duggan said HELP is asking the 10th Circuit to require the Army Corps of Engineers to do a more thorough environmental assessment.
“They’re required to do that under the Clean Water Act, and they did not do that,” Duggan said.
Attorneys for the environmental groups will file their final briefs by Dec. 12, and then it’s a waiting game.
There is no timetable for when the case may be heard, or even if the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments.