Justia Aviation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Environmental Law
Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. Federal Aviation Administration
To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, the FAA issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the construction and operation of an air cargo facility at the San Bernardino International Airport. The Record of Decision found no significant environmental impact. Objectors asserted that the FAA did not conform its study areas to the FAA’s Order 1050.1F Desk Reference.The Ninth Circuit rejected a petition for review. The FAA’s nonadherence to the Desk Reference could not alone serve as the basis for holding that the FAA did not take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences. Rejecting an argument that the FAA should have expanded its assessment to include more than 80 projects, the court held that the record showed that the FAA did consider the fact that the additional projects would result in massive average daily trips in the first year of operations.The court rejected California’s argument that the FAA needed to create an environmental impact statement because a California Environmental Impact Report found that the proposed Project could result in significant impacts on air quality, greenhouse gas, and noise. The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s own assessment was that the Project will comply with federal and state air quality standards. The court also rejected California’s noise concerns. Objectors failed to show arbitrariness or capriciousness in the EA’s truck trip calculation method and provided no reason to believe that the Project threatened to violate federal ozone standards. View "Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. Federal Aviation Administration" on Justia Law
City of Mukilteo v. US DOT
Petitioners challenged the FAA's decision that no Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is necessary to commence operating commercial passenger service at Paine Field in Snohomish County. The court held that the scope of the FAA's demand-based projections were not arbitrary and capricious. In this case, the FAA determined that there were no connected actions for this project and petitioners have failed to provide anything more than mere speculation that the FAA’s actions now will lead to more aircraft activity at Paine Field in the future than covered in the Environmental Assessment (EA). Therefore, it was not arbitrary for the FAA to have included no connected actions in the final EA. The court also concluded that the FAA’s Finding of No Significant Impact was not predetermined by the creation of an optimistic schedule for completing the environmental review or statements favoring commercial service at Paine Field. Here, the FAA performed its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321-4370h, obligations in good faith and did not prematurely commit resources to opening the terminal. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "City of Mukilteo v. US DOT" on Justia Law
Town of Barnstable, MA v. FAA
Petitioners challenged the FAA's no hazard determinations in 2012 for proposed wind turbines in Nantucket Sound. The court concluded that the FAA could reasonably view its Handbook procedures implementing the Secretary's regulations to establish a threshold finding necessary to trigger a further "adverse effects" analysis; given the record evidence and the level of FAA expertise involved in drawing factual conclusions from the reports, conducting the aeronautical study, and responding to comments, petitioners failed to show that the FAA findings were unsupported by substantial evidence; and petitioners' contention that the FAA was required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4332, to perform or participate in an analysis of the environmental impacts of its no hazard determinations was based on a flawed premise. Accordingly, the court denied the petitions for review. View "Town of Barnstable, MA v. FAA" on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Environmental Law, Government & Administrative Law
Twp. of Tinicum v. U.S. Dep’t of Transp.
Philadelphia International Airport is the ninth busiest airport in the U.S. Since 1999, PHL has been among the 10 most delayed airports and has contributed to delays at airports nationwide because its runways are too short, too close together, and too few. After receiving the City’s proposal for expansion in 2003, the FAA prepared an Environmental Impact Statement. In 2008 the FAA published a three-volume, 900-page draft EIS. The EPA submitted comments, citing alleged data omissions in the FAA’s analysis. The FAA considered and responded to each of the EPA’s comments in the final EIS. Although disagreements remained, in 2010, the FAA published its Record of Decision, which approved the expansion and delineated reasons for approval, including a finding that the project was reasonably consistent with existing plans of public agencies for development of areas surrounding the airport, as required by the Airport and Airway Improvement Act (AAIA), 49 U.S.C. 47106(a)(1. Objectors alleged violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 and the AAIA. The Third Circuit denied review, finding that the FAA decision was not arbitrary. View "Twp. of Tinicum v. U.S. Dep't of Transp." on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Environmental Law, Transportation Law
Town of Barnstable, MA v. Federal Aviation Admin.
Petitioners challenged the FAA's issuance of 130 Determinations of No Hazard for each of the proposed wind turbines in the area of Nantucket Sound. Petitioners argued that the FAA violated its governing statute, misread its own regulations, and arbitrarily and capriciously failed to calculate the dangers posed to local aviation. The FAA claimed that petitioners lacked standing to challenge the FAA's determinations and that their merits claims were faulty. The court found that petitioners had standing and that the FAA misread its regulations, leaving the challenged determinations inadequately justified. Accordingly, the petitions for review were granted and the FAA's determinations were vacated and remanded. View "Town of Barnstable, MA v. Federal Aviation Admin." on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Environmental Law, Government & Administrative Law
American Trucking Ass’n v. The City of Los Angeles, et al.
This case arose when the Port of Los Angeles prohibited motor carriers from operating drayage trucks on port property unless the motor carriers entered into concession agreements with the port. The concession agreements set forth fourteen specific requirements covering, among other things, truck driver employment, truck maintenance, parking, and port security. The agreements were adopted as part of the port's "Clean Truck Program," adopted in response to community opposition that had successfully stymied port growth. Plaintiff challenged the concession agreements, arguing that they were preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAA Act), 49 U.S.C. 14501 et seq. The court held that the district court meticulously identified and applied the governing law. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the financial capability, maintenance, off-street parking, and placard provisions were not preempted. The court reversed the district court's conclusion that the employee-driver provision was saved from preemption by the market participant doctrine, and remanded for further proceedings. View "American Trucking Ass'n v. The City of Los Angeles, et al." on Justia Law
Safeguarding the Historic Hanscom Area’s Irreplacable Resources, Inc. v. Fed. Aviation Admin.
The FAA issued permits for modernization of the mixed-use Hanscom airport near the historic towns of Lexington and Concord. Opponents raised challenges under the Department of Transportation Act, 49 U.S.C. 303(c), the National Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. 470f, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347. The First Circuit rejected the challenges. The FAA adequately examined alternatives; the determination that none would be prudent was reasonable. The agency went beyond considering reasonably foreseeable impacts and considered worst case scenarios. View "Safeguarding the Historic Hanscom Area's Irreplacable Resources, Inc. v. Fed. Aviation Admin." on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Environmental Law, Real Estate & Property Law