Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Friends of the Earth v. Coleman

Citation: 5 ELR 20428
No. No. 74-3490, 518 F.2d 323/8 ERC 1617/(9th Cir., 05/28/1975) Aff'g denial of preliminary injunction

On appeal from partial denial of plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction, the court of appeals concludes that the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to extend to the nonfederally funded elements of a state's airport expansion and development plan an injunction against construction, pending submission of a NEPA impact statement (EIS). Although the district court clearly erred in finding that state-funded programs for construction of a new terminal and five-story parking garage had no environmental impact, its refusal to apply NEPA's EIS requirements to them is sustainable on the alternate ground that they involved no federal participation. The court distinguished federal highway approval cases in ruling that FAA approval of an airport layout plan does not trigger any EIS requirement. Moreover, although there is substantial complementarity between the locally-and the federally-funded parts of the plan, the decision to supply federal funds did not subject the overall project to NEPA, especially since the federal funds totalled less than ten percent of overall airport development project expenses. Allegedly irreparable harm to the environment cannot be a controlling consideration where, as here, applicants for injunctive relief have shown little likelihood of prevailing on their claim that major federal action is involved. It is also significant that the environmental effects of the proposed airport expansion have already been the subject of an environmental impact report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act. District court judgment affirmed. For the district court's opinion, see 5 ELR 20223. For counsel, see 5 ELR 20223, ELR 65257.