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Boston v. Coleman

Citation: 5 ELR 20502
No. No. 74-1781-S, 397 F. Supp. 698/(D. Mass., 07/18/1975)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is enjoined from approving an airport layout plan for runway expansion at Logan Airport in Boston pending compliance with its own regulations concerning environmental assessment. Plan approval is a prerequisite to FAA funding for a runway construction project but does not commit the agency to any particular course of action. While City of Boston v. Volpe is inapplicable due to its focus on non-federal defendants, the reasoning of the Ninth Circuit in Friends of the Earth v. Coleman is controlling. Consequently, a NEPA environmental impact statement is not required at this initial stage of the funding process. However, FAA regulations state that plan approval constitutes "action" within the meaning of NEPA and requires a preliminary agency determination to the type of environmental clearance necessitated by the project. If plan approval is granted before such assessment takes place it must be conditioned upon the subsequent completion of agency environmental review. The injunction will remain in effect pending the FAA's election of conditional approval, or preparation of either a NEPA environmental impact statement or an agency environmental assessment report. For earlier rulings in related litigation see 5 ELR 20241, 4 ELR 20314, 2 ELR 20501 and 2 ELR 20169.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Peter Koff Asst. Corporation Counsel
City of Boston Law Dept.
One City Hall Sq.
Boston, Mass 02201

Thomas H. Martin
Mason & Martin
Sears Crescent, Government Center
Boston, Mass. 02108

Counsel for Defendants
William Hughes Asst. U.S. Attorney
1107 John W. McCormack Building
Boston, Mass. 02109