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Barnes v. FAA

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20098
Nos. 14-71180, (9th Cir., 08/03/2017)

The Ninth Circuit held that the FAA did not act arbitrarily when it forewent a full EIS on a third runway at the Hillsboro Airport in Hillsboro, Oregon. In 2005, the airport, the busiest in the state of Oregon, developed a plan to deal with traffic that included the addition of a third runway. Since the modifications were funded in part by an FAA grant, the environmental effects of the project had to be considered. The airport submitted an EA to the FAA, which issued a FONSI and allowed the expansion to go forward. Concerned citizens and a non-profit organization challenged the approval, claiming that it violated NEPA and that a full EIS was required. The airport submitted a supplemental EA (SEA) which FAA adopted. Petitioners then claimed that FAA did not fulfill its requirement under NEPA to take a "hard look" at the impacts of increased air traffic. The court disagreed stating that in considering the SEA and issuing a FONSI, FAA did not act in a manner that was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.