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Richfield, City of v. Federal Aviation Admin.

Citation: 28 ELR 21539
No. 95-2292, 152 F.3d 905/(8th Cir., 08/17/1998)

The court holds that a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decision to approve a project to build a taxiway and alter flight patterns at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport considered environmental impacts and does not violate National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) § 102(2)(c). The court first holds that the environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared for the project did not need to examine the possibility that full implementation of the project would prove infeasible and result in no significant impact. An EIS need not examine ways in which a project might fail to affect the environment. The court next holds that the EIS was not required to examine the possibility of instituting noise mitigation measures as alternatives to the proposed project. Under NEPA and the Airport and Airway Improvement Act, an EIS must consider reasonable alternatives to a project. However, the city's alternative could not possibly fulfill the project's purpose and is therefore unreasonable. Last, the court holds that the EIS was not a post hoc rationalization of a decision which the FAA had already made. The FAA only approved the project after the completion of an extensive review process that included ample opportunity for public comment. During the process, the city made numerous comments and the FAA carefully responded to the city's points.

Counsel for Petitioner
Charles K. Dayton
Leonard, Street & Deinard
150 S. 5th St., Ste. 2300, Minneapolis MN 55402
(612) 335-1665

Counsel for Respondents
John Cassidy
Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin
2555 M St. NW, Washington DC 20037
(202) 293-6400

Before Beam and Gaitan,1 JJ.