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Friends of Richards-Gebaur Airport v. Federal Aviation Admin.

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20696
Nos. No. 00-1050, 251 F.3d 1178/(8th Cir., 06/11/2001)

The court denies petitions to review the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) decisions to categorically exclude the closure of a Missouri city's airport from the National Environmental Policy Act's (NEPA's) environmental assessment (EA) requirement and to release the city's federal obligation to maintain the airport so the city could use the property as a rail-truck distribution facility. Petitioners argued that the FAA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in determining that a categorical exclusion applied to the airport's closure and asserted that several extraordinary circumstances required the FAA to take a closer look by completing an EA. The court first holds that the closure was not highly controversial on environmental grounds. The court further holds that the FAA considered the distribution facility's potential for community disruption, traffic, and noise in deciding that a categorical exclusion applied, and it adequately determined that the facility's air quality effects would not rise to a significant level. The court next holds that the FAA also considered relevant factors pertaining to impacts on historical property and the availability of relocation housing. In addition, the court holds that the FAA's decision to release the city's federal obligations to maintain the property as an airport was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law under the Surplus Property Act. The FAA reasonably determined that the release provides a net benefit to aviation and, therefore, is "necessary" to advance and protect civil aviation within the meaning of the statute.

Counsel for Petitioners
Joseph S. Gall
Law Offices of Joseph S. Gall
129 W. Lexington Ave., Independence MO 64050
(816) 833-6601

Counsel for Respondent
Daphney Fuller
Federal Aviation Administration
600 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC 20024
(202) 484-5147

Hansen, J. Before Loken and Bright, JJ.