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Austin airport modifies its plans to make room for more fuel storage

Construction is already underway on the new tanks.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin's airport will have to get another OK from the Austin City Council if it wants to add more than two new jet fuel storage tanks.

Construction is already underway on the new tanks.

On Wednesday, the airport's CEO sent a letter to councilmembers saying if they want to install more beyond that, the airport will have to get a new environmental assessment and approval from the council.

People who live in the area say they have health and environmental concerns about the project. But airport officials insist it's safe.

In the airport CEO's memo on Wednesday, she said the airport is also considering voluntary residential property buyouts for homes near the new fuel facility.

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


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