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Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J.

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 20788
Nos. 96 CV 3793, 951 F. Supp. 383/(E.D.N.Y., 01/14/1997)

The court holds that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey need not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) before leasing a Brooklyn waterfront pier to a company for use as a building supply facility and corporate headquarters. The Port Authority, while created by a compact agreement that was approved by Congress, is not "within the executive branch of the Federal Government" or a "wholly owned Federal Government corporation" as provided in the CZMA's regulations. Neither is it properly viewed as an "agency of the Federal Government" for purposes of NEPA. The federal government plays no role in the operation of the Port Authority and neither Congress nor the President participates in the Port Authority's decisionmaking. Moreover, the federal government provides the Port Authority with no financial support. Even though the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires Congress to approve state compacts that affect the national interest, this does not mean that Congress intended to subsume compacts within the federal government or to subject their operations to general federal regulatory schemes. The court next holds that U.S. Supreme Court rulings denying Eleventh Amendment immunity to agencies created under the authority of the Compact Clause provide no support for plaintiff's claim that these entities are "federal agencies." Further, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's view that the Port Authority is not a federal agency is entitled to substantial deference. The court then declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state-law claims against the Port Authority for noncompliance with New York's Waterfront Revitalization Act and State Environmental Quality Review Act. These claims involve issues of state public policy that, in the absence of federal jurisdiction, are best resolved by a state court.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Francis P. Barron
Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Worldwide Plaza
825 8th Ave., New York NY 10019
(212) 474-1000

Counsel for Defendants
Timothy G. Stickelman
One World Trade Ctr., 68th Fl. NE, New York NY 10048
(212) 435-7000