Orange County has joined Newport Beach in a lawsuit seeking to block revised air traffic plans for John Wayne Airport.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors moved to file the lawsuit following Newport Beach’s lead. Laguna Beach has filed a similar lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration.
The lawsuits challenge an environmental impact review for the federal government’s Southern California Metroplex project, which aims to upgrade air traffic control procedures at 21 airports.
County officials are skeptical of the FAA’s claim that a change in flight patterns won’t have a notable impact on the environment.
“Our residents are the ones who live every day with aircraft operating overhead,” said Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel. “The Metroplex project must be clearly defined and the resulting impacts clearly described.
Our residents deserve to know whether and how the FAA’s proposed changes may impact them now and into the future.”
The FAA does not comment on pending litigation, a spokesman said.
However, in federal court papers, the FAA pointed out that Orange County’s lawsuit is “untimely and must be dismissed.”
The FAA issued its order Sept. 2, and a petition to review it must be filed within two months, the FAA argued in its response to the lawsuit.
The county’s request for leeway “relies on speculation about hypothetical future actions by FAA,” the agency argued.
“If FAA issues new orders in the future to which Orange County objects, then the county may petition for review of those orders in a timely fashion. But the order being challenged here was final on the date it was issued: the petition must therefore be dismissed.”
—City News Service
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