Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Atlanta, City of v. United States

Citation: 12 ELR 20577
No. No. C80-2230, 531 F. Supp. 506/16 ERC 2068/(N.D. Ga., 01/28/1982)

The court rules that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) actions that render a new runway operational are subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) even though the FAA approved the runway construction in 1968, prior to NEPA's effective date. Plaintiff city sought a declaratory judgment relieving the agency of the duty to prepare an environmental impact statement. Although the FAA is not funding the runway it approved in 1968, the FAA contends that the action constitutes a major federal action requiring compliance with NEPA because its completion requires the FAA to install navigational equipment and adopt new flight procedures. The court rules that since NEPA and Council on Environmental Quality regulations require that the Act apply to the fullest extent possible, it should apply to post-enactment actions regardless of the stage of the project at NEPA's effective date. The court notes that not only do the FAA's regulations require compliance with NEPA for the actions proposed, but they constitute major federal actions within the meaning of NEPA because they make possible substantially increased air traffic. In addition, since the 1968 plan reserved authority with the FAA to establish flight plans and procedures, the environmental effects were not entirely evaluated at that time. Finally, the court finds that the costs of subjecting the project to a NEPA review so long after its initial approval do not outweigh the environmental benefits of complying with NEPA since construction contracts have not been let and new flight plans have not been drafted.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Marva Jones Brooks, City Attorney; J. M. Harris Jr., Irmina Rivero Owens
1100 S. Omni Int'l, Atlanta GA 30335
(404) 658-1150

Counsel for Defendant
Curtis E. Anderson, Ass't U.S. Attorney
1800 R. B. Russell Fed. Bldg., 75 Spring St. SW, Atlanta GA 30303
(404) 221-6954

Leonard A. Ceruzzi, Ass't Chief Counsel
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave. SW, Washington DC 20591
(202) 426-3473