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McDowell v. Schlesinger

Citation: 6 ELR 20224
No. No. 75-CV234 W-4, 404 F. Supp. 221/(W.D. Mo., 07/09/1975)

The planned relocation of various Air Force units from bases near Kansas City, Missouri and elsewhere to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois is enjoined pending preparation of a full NEPA impact statement. The Air Force's determination that the proposed realignments, which involve more than 7,500 personnel, do not constitute a "major federal action significanly affecting the quality of the human environment" was not reasonable in light of the requirements of NEPA, the Department of Defense's own NEPA compliance guidelines, and the relevant factual circumstances. In making such threshold determinations, an agency must identify all areas of potential environmental concern howing from the proposed action and then take an informed "hard look" at all the potential impacts. The court finds that the Air Force's negative determination did not properly consider secondary effects such as dislocations in the local economies and reductions in the tax bases of the cities from which the units are moving, and overburdened public services and housing markets at Scott. The Air Force's decision not to prepare a full environmental impact statement can thus only be categorized as a "bald conclusion" reached after perfunctory analysis of clearly inadequate data. The county in which the Kansas City base is located and civilian employees at the base do have standing to maintain this action. These plaintiffs have demonstrated that the relocation will cause them injury in fact through socio-economic impacts. The broad language of NEPA, the CEQ Guidelines and the case law clearly indicate that these "secondary" or indirect impacts are injuries within the zone of interests protected by NEPA. The Air Force is accordingly enjoined from proceeding with the transfers, although the injunction is later modified to permit the relocation of two small units on grounds of national security.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Joseph E. Stevens, Jr.
William H. Bates
Jack D. Rowe
Lathrop, Koontz, Righter, Clagett, Parker & Norquist
15th Floor, Ten Main Center
Kansas City MO 64105
(816) 842-0820

Counsel for Defendants
David M. Proctor, Jr., Asst. U.S. Attorney
U.S. Courthouse
Kansas City MO 64106
(816) 374-3122