Judge Richard Leon says an Environmental Impact Statement for the Purple Line is invalid because since it was prepared, Metro ridership has declined. By this reasoning, many have asked, isn't every EIS for every road project equally invalid?
Ever since about 2004, actual US driving has been about constant. But each year, the US Department of Transportation forecast it to grow again around the historic rate from the late 20th century. And year after year, as the above chart shows, the actual rate hasn't grown like that, or much at all. In some years, it has declined.
It sounds like any environmental analysis assuming people would use a new road might be wrong. So is an environmental litigation nonprofit now preparing a legal challenge to every road EIS in the entire nation, citing Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail v. FTA?
I'm not actually saying I think every EIS should be overturned. Rather, I think Leon's ruling is absurd. If anything, more people will need the Purple Line if Metro is struggling. And Metro won't struggle forever. And even with lower ridership, the environmental effect of the Purple Line will be an enormous positive.
But until and unless a court overturns Leon's ruling, it would seem to apply to a lot more than just the Purple Line.