It’s not an April Fools joke, however, the timing of Chief Judge John R. Tunheim, US District Court – District of Minnesota decision couldn’t have more ironically timed.
Although the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion authority is giddy coming off a depressing day filled with devastating budget realities, the intentional headline distortion “BREAKING NEWS: Federal judge throws out complaint over Red River diversion” is a desperate attempt to claim victory, where no real victory exists.
Despite Chief Judge Tunheim’s opening statements:
“Even after today, this case will go on. The JPA’s Minnesota law claims have not yet been decided and the Court’s previously granted injunction will continue for the time being.”,
As per usual, when the story was breaking, “select” media grabbing headlines and pro-diversion propagandists completely ignored the aforementioned to lead with bias and distortion.
Oh well…, barking dogs “bark”…
FACT: The complaint was not throw out. It was presented, reviewed and a decision was handed down based on legal points before the court.
FACT: The complaint DOES NOT lift the injunction. More to the point, court documents clearly state the JPA’s Minnesota law claims have not yet been decided and the Court’s previously granted injunction will continue for the time being.
In short, the Chief Judge Tunheim’s determination does not endorse the project, suggest the project is just, diminish the Minnesota’s sovereign state rights relating to permitting or whether the project as presented – would likely be built.
The Court’s role in deciding these summary judgment motions is to examine the process by which the Corps arrived at its decision. Whether the Corps arrived at the correct decision, in terms of what is better for the environment, or better generally for the people in the affected area, is beyond the scope of the matter at issue today. The Court’s finding is limited: the Corps did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in studying the environmental effects of the relevant Minnesota alternative plan for the flood diversion project. While reasonable people can and will disagree as to whether the Corps made a good or bad decision in deciding against the Minnesota option, the Corps’ process was not illegal.
The Court’s order today is not the end of this case. The JPA’s Minnesota law claims are still pending against the Diversion Authority – those claims were not at issue in the motions decided in this order – and the Court’s injunction preventing construction of the OHB ring levee remains in place. Those matters will await resolution on another day.