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Southeast Austin neighbors suing over jet fuel tanks near airport

The City Council voted to move forward with the facility in April.

AUSTIN, Texas — After the Austin City Council in April voted to move forward with plans for a jet fuel storage facility in southeast Austin, a group of neighbors is now suing.

According to documents obtained by KVUE on Wednesday, the organizations suing include "Southeast Austin Residents and Neighbors Organized for Environmental Justice" and "People Organized in Defense of the Earth and Her Resources." The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Billy Nolan, its acting administrator, are listed as plaintiffs.

An environmental assessment provided by the airport found "no significant impact" from the fuel tanks, a finding approved by the FAA in an order on April 8, 2020. The lawsuit is asking the court to set aside that FAA order and asks for a new FAA review of the project.

The FAA website says proposed actions and decisions by FAA officials are subject to review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

"Once the FAA determines that NEPA applies, it needs to determine the appropriate level of review," the website says. "The types of review differ based on FAA's determination of the potential for significant impacts."

The lawsuit alleges the current environmental assessment does not meet NEPA requirements.

"Petitioners further request this court require FAA to prepare an EA [environmental assessment] to cure all violations of NEPA," the lawsuit says.

"An example would be an analysis of alternatives to the proposed project's location. Taking a hard look at other possible alternatives," Marisa Perales, one of the attorneys representing the residents, told KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman. "There's no environmental justice analysis included there. There was no public outreach. Those are things that are required by NEPA, and those are things that we've pointed out in the past and that the residents have pointed out in the past that were missing from the environmental assessment."


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