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Jackson County v. Jones

Citation: 8 ELR 20300
No. No. 77-1739, 571 F.2d 1004/(8th Cir., 02/07/1978)

The Eighth Circuit affirms a district court's denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction against the relocation of personnel and equipment from Richards-Gebaur Air Base near Kansas City to Scott Air Base near St. Louis. Treating the case as an appeal on the merits, the court rules that the Air Force's environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project was adequate and that the substantive decision to proceed with the base relocation was not arbitrary and capricious and thus not reversible under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The court finds that the Air Force is not exempt from the statute's mandates and that the Act is applicable to this relocation because it will directly and substantially affect the physical and economic environments of the two areas. The court rejects the contention that the impact statement did not discuss all feasible alternatives in sufficient detail; although the discussion of alternatives was less than thorough, it was nevertheless adequate. Plaintiffs are also mistaken in asserting that the EIS inadequately considered the impact of the action on the cost and availability of housing in the affected areas. The court notes that the agency's substantive decision to proceed with the relocation may be nullified under NEPA if the stated purpose will not be achieved or if the costs of the move, environmental and economic, are so great that the decision appears arbitrary and capricious. The court expresses serious doubt whether the Air Force was correct in concluding that the predicted $15.5 million direct cost saving will offset the indirect adverse economic impact of the relocation on housing, employment, schools, and businesses in the Kansas City area. The court rules, however, that although the decision may have been unwise, it cannot be classified as arbitrary and capricious and thus cannot be nullified.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellants
Stanley P. Christopher, III, Deputy County Counsel
415 E. 12th St., Kansas City MO 64106
(816) 881-3555

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Larry A. Boggs
Land & Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

Heaney, J., joined by Webster & Henley, JJ.