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Citizens for Responsible Area Growth v. Adams

Citation: 10 ELR 20143
No. No. 79-61, 477 F. Supp. 994/14 ERC 1562/(D.N.H., 08/23/1979)

The court preliminarily enjoins further construction near and related to a regional airport pending preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Three federal agencies have or are about to grant funds for different parts of the work and have concluded that an EIS is not required for any part. The court rejects the defendants' claim that the three projects are independent for purposes of NEPA evaluation, relying on the statutory language, case law, and Council on Environmental Quality guidelines and regulations to define broadly the concepts of "project" and "environmental impact" under the Act. The court further finds that the agencies unreasonably restricted their environmental assessments to their own actions without analyzing the cumulative impacts of the entire airport expansion project. The court does, however, find that a public hearing on the proposals complied with the requirements of the Airport and Airway Development Act. In fashioning a remedy, the court notes that because defendants' noncompliance with NEPA was not merely technical but fundamental, the traditional requirements for injunctive relief may be liberally applied to favor enforcement of the Act. Finding that continued construction could cause irreparable harm to plaintiffs, that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their NEPA claim, and that issuance of an injunction will serve the public interest, the court halts the project pending the preparation by defendants of an EIS.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Robert A. Backus
O'Neill Backus Spielman
116 Lowell St., P.O. Box 516, Manchester NH 03105
(603) 668-7272

Peter R. Teachout
Vermont Law School, South Royalton VT 05068
(802) 763-8303

Counsel for Defendants
William H. Shaheen, U.S. Attorney
Federal Bldg., Concord NH 03301
(603) 225-5588

Stanley M. Brown
Brown and Nixon, P.A.
67 Central St., Manchester NH 03101
(603) 668-5860

Peter Decato, City Attorney
Decato and Cirone, P.A.
23 Bank St., Lebanon NH 03766
(603) 448-1330

Counsel for Plaintiff-Intervenor State of Vermont
M. Jerome Diamond, Attorney General; William E. Griffin, Ass't Attorney General
109 State St., Montpelier VT 05602
(802) 828-3171

Counsel for Defendant-Intervenor State of New Hampshire
Steven J. McAuliffe, Ass't Attorney General
208 State House Annex, Concord NH 03301
(603) 271-3658

Counsel for Defendant-Intervenor New England Legal Foundation
Robert R. Ruddock
New England Legal Foundation
110 Tremont St., Boston MA 02108
(617) 482-1410