Barnes, et al. v. US Dept. of Transportation, et al., No. 10-70718 (9th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Petitioners challenged an order of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concerning the proposed construction by the Port of Portland of a new runway at Hillsboro Airport (HIO). On appeal, petitioners argued that the decision not to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was unreasonable for several reasons, chief among them the FAA's failure to consider the environmental impacts of any increased demand for HIO resulting from the addition of a runway. Petitioners also argued that the FAA did not afford them a public hearing within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 47106. As a preliminary matter, the court addressed the Port's and the FAA's arguments that petitioners waived their claims because they failed to raise them during the public comment period. The court held, after finding that certain precedents did not apply here, that remand was necessary for the FAA to consider the environmental impact of increased demand resulting from the HIO expansion project, if any, pursuant to the National Environmental Protection Act of 1969 (NEPA), 40 C.F.R. 1508.8(b). The court also held that an EIS was not warranted based on petitioners' contention that the context and intensity of the project independently required an EIS. The court further held that petitioners' arguments regarding whether the FAA afforded them a public hearing was unpersuasive where the hearing afforded petitioners was a "public hearing" within the meaning of section 47106 and FAA Order 5050.4B. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review and remanded with instructions to the FAA to consider the environmental impact of increased demand resulting from the HIO expansion project pursuant to section 1508.8(b).