Garvey Schubert Barer, March 5, 2010
Washington, D.C., March 5, 2010 - The U.S. District Court decision in Manitoba v. Salazar, handed down on Friday, March 5, 2010, was a major victory for the Province of Manitoba, which has been challenging the construction of the Northwest Area Water Supply project in the State of North Dakota. Manitoba has been concerned that if the project is constructed without the necessary environmental controls, invasive species and other harmful biota could be transferred via the project to fresh water lakes and rivers in Manitoba, with potentially irreversible consequences for Manitoba's commercial and recreational fisheries. In its decision, the court upheld Manitoba's request for a continued injunction on the project, and agreed with Manitoba's concerns that if a breach occurred in the project's pipeline, the consequences "might be catastrophic."
The Court also made one other highly significant finding. It determined that, when federal agencies conduct environmental analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of projects in the United States, they are obliged to consider the potential environmental impact on Canada. This is an important precedent squarely establishing the principle that federal agencies are required to take into account the transboundary environmental impacts of their actions. GSB's clients in Canada are extremely pleased with this result, and it should further enhance their efforts to have their environmental concerns taken into account when future federal projects that could have an impact on Canada are considered.