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C.A.R.E. Now v. Federal Aviation Admin.

Citation: 12 ELR 21081
No. No. 87-8784, 844 F.2d 1569/(11th Cir., 05/18/1988)

The court holds that the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) finding of no significant impact (FONSI) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for a proposed runway extension was reasonable. The court first holds that the FAA did not violate NEPA or the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982 by concluding that the proposed project would not have asignificant environmental impact. The FAA adequately considered the potential impact of the project, and did not require a showing of certainty of environmental harm. The FONSI's failure to consider projected increased noise from larger aircraft in the area is not improper, since the runway extension is unrelated to the anticipated changes. Population increase in the area accounts for the changes, and the proposed runway extension is not designed to accommodate aircraft larger than those currently using the runway. The court next holds that the FONSI's alternatives analysis is adequate. The FAA permissibly did not consider alternative forecasts of future growth at the airport, because the FAA only needed to be concerned with that portion of the growth due to the runway extension. The FAA made a reasoned choice among 11 alternatives, rejecting the "do nothing" alternative and a proposed extension of a parallel existing runway because those plans would result in greater adverse environmental effects than the proposed extension. The court holds that the FAA did not improperly fail to consider the cumulative effects of the proposed runway extension in the context of a broader expansion plan for the airport. Although other projects at the airport may contribute to its use by larger aircraft, those projects are unrelated to the proposed runway extension; the extended runway would not be used by larger planes, and increased heavy aircraft is the inevitable effect of the growth of the area. Finally, the court holds that the FAA's conclusion that mitigation measures will reduce the potential environmental impact of the extension to an insignificant level was reasonable. Although the measures will increase the number of families exposed to the airport noise, they will reduce the overall noise level.

Counsel for Petitioners
H. Wayne Phears
Phears & Dailey
Suite 375, 4725 Peachtree Corners Circle, Norcross GA 30092
(404) 446-2116

Counsel for Respondent
Elizabeth Ann Peterson
Land & Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5396

Before JOHNSON and HATCHETT, Circuit Judges, and ESCHBACH*, Senior Circuit Judge.