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Irving, City of v. Federal Aviation Admin.

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20525
Nos. No. CA3-81-0947-R, 539 F. Supp. 17/(N.D. Tex., 07/06/1981)

The court upholds the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) finding that increased use of runway 13L at the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport for a 60-day test period does not require preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). Applying a "reasonableness" standard of review, the court concludes that the agency record, supplemented by testimony at a judicial hearing, showed that no auditory damage or other health problems would result from operations limited to 60 days' duration and thus reasonably supports FAA's finding of no significant impact (FONSI). The court adds, however, that a permanent change in use of the runway would be a major action with a significant effect on the quality of life of Irving's citizens and would require preparation of an EIS. The court also holds that FAA's failure to consult with Irving officials and the public before issuing its FONSI did not violate FAA regulations because the consultation provisions of the regulations, FAA Reg. PP210 and 214, are discretionary. Finally, the court denies defendants' motions to dismiss, which were based on claims of primary jurisdiction, failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and exclusive court of appeals jurisdiction. It holds that the need for an EIS is a question of law, not within FAA's special expertise, that FAA's procedures provide no "administrative remedies" for its failure to prepare an EIS, and that exclusive court of appeals review does not apply where the only statutory basis of the claim is the National Environmental Policy Act.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (29 pp. $4.25, ELR Order No. C-1256).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Don Rorschach, City Attorney
825 W. Irving Blvd., Irving TX 75060
(214) 253-2541

Cevil W. Casterline
Shank, Irwin, Conant, Williamson & Grevelle
3100 First Nat'l Bank Bldg., Dallas TX 75202
(214) 748-9696

Counsel for Defendants
Susan J. Cook
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5251

Charles Cabaniss, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Fed. Bldg. & Cthse., 1100 Commerce St., Dallas TX 75242
(214) 767-0951

Lee Holt, City Attorney
1500 Marilla St., Dallas TX 75201
(214) 670-3510

Buchmeyer, J.