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New York, City of v. Mineta

Citation: 32 ELR 20078
No. No. 00-4124, 262 F.3d 169/(2d Cir., 08/20/2001)

The court holds that the Secretary of Transportation did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21) in granting take-off and landing slots to airlines servicing New York's Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports without first conducting an environmental review. The court first holds that AIR21's nondiscretionary mandates and its imposition of short deadlines relieves the Secretary from having to comply with NEPA. AIR21's § 41716, which applies to the New York airports, states that the Secretary shall grant the slots, provided that the applicant carrier satisfies the conditions listed in the section. It, therefore, provides objective standards that do not contemplate the exercise of judgment or discretion. The court next holds that although § 41715(c) may allow for the exercise of discretion in granting the slots, the city waived or forfeited any argument based on the subsection because the city failed at any point in the proceeding to discuss it. The court additionally holds that § 41718's exempting the Secretary from filing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for Reagan National Airport does not thereby imply that LaGuardia and Kennedy are subject to NEPA's EIS requirement. The court finally holds that whether the slot exemptions at issue are discretionary decisions, AIR21's short deadlines make compliance with NEPA impossible.

Counsel for Petitioners
Susan E. Amron
Office of Corporation Counsel
100 Church St., New York NY 10007
(212) 788-0303

Counsel for Respondents
F. Franklin Amanat, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
225 Cadman Plaza E., Brooklyn NY 11201
(718) 254-7000

Winter, J. Before Van Graafeiland and Calabresi, JJ.