237 F.3d 186 (3rd Cir. 2001), 99-3458, Khodara Environmental Inc. v Beckman

Docket Nº:FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, APPELLANT IN NO. 99-3458
Citation:237 F.3d 186
Party Name:KHODARA ENVIRONMENTAL, INC., GENERAL PARTNER, ON BEHALF OF EAGLE ENVIRONMENTAL, L.P. V. STEVEN BECKMAN; FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION; CLEARFIELD-JEFFERSON COUNTIES REGIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY; DONALD R. JOHNSON; PAUL SEKULA; WILLIAM MIKSICH; FREDERICK G. MURRAY; TIM MORGAN; ROBERT E. REITZ; HENRY DEIBLE; PAUL MCMILLEN; MARK MCKINLEY; JANE F. GARV
Case Date:January 17, 2001
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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237 F.3d 186 (3rd Cir. 2001)

KHODARA ENVIRONMENTAL, INC., GENERAL PARTNER, ON BEHALF OF EAGLE ENVIRONMENTAL, L.P.

V.

STEVEN BECKMAN; FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION; CLEARFIELD-JEFFERSON COUNTIES REGIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY; DONALD R. JOHNSON; PAUL SEKULA; WILLIAM MIKSICH; FREDERICK G. MURRAY; TIM MORGAN; ROBERT E. REITZ; HENRY DEIBLE; PAUL MCMILLEN; MARK MCKINLEY; JANE F. GARVEY JEFFERSON COUNTY; PINE CREEK TOWNSHIP (INTERVENOR-DEFENDANTS IN D.C.)

FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, APPELLANT IN NO. 99-3458

KHODARA ENVIRONMENTAL, INC., GENERAL PARTNER ACTING ON BEHALF OF EAGLE ENVIRONMENTAL, L.P., (COLLECTIVELY "EAGLE"), APPELLANT IN NO. 99-3465

STEVEN BECKMAN, APPELLANT IN NO. 99-3475

No. 99-3458, 99-3465, 99-3475

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

January 17, 2001

Argued: February 28, 2000

ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA, (Dist. Court No. 97-cv-00093E), District Court Judge: Sean J. McLaughlin

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Counsel for Appellant Federal Aviation Administration: David W. Ogden Acting Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman United States Attorney Mark B. Stern, Scott R. McINTOSH (Argued) Attorneys, Appellate Staff Civil Division, Department of Justice 601 D Street N.W., Room 9550 Washington, DC 20530-0001

Counsel for Appellee/Cross-Appellant Khodara Environmental, Inc.: John P. Krill, Jr. (Argued) Carleton O. Strouss Jacqueline JACKSON-DeGARCIA, Julia M. Glencer Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Llp 240 North Third Street Harrisburg, PA 17101

Paul A. Tufano General Counsel Thaddeus A. Weber (Argued) Assistant Counsel Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Northwest Regional Counsel Meadville,

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PA 16335, Counsel for Appellant/Cross-Appellee Steven Beckman:

Counsel for Appellees Clearfield-Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority, Donald R. Johnson, Paul Sekula, William Miksich, Frederick G. Murray, Tim Morgan, Robert E. Reitz, Henry Deible, Paul McMillen and Mark McKinley: Thomas L. Wenger (Argued) Steven R. Williams Wix, Wenger & Williams 508 North Second Street Harrisburg, PA 17101

Before: Alito and Stapleton, Circuit Judges, and Pollak, District Judge.[*]

OPINION FOR THE COURT

Alito, Circuit Judge

Eagle Environmental, L.P. ("Eagle"), a landfill developer, brought both facial and as-applied challenges against a federal statute regulating the placement of waste disposal facilities near airports. The District Court struck down the law as facially unconstitutional, holding that it was so irrationally underinclusive as to violate equal protection.

While this appeal was pending, Congress repealed the challenged statute and replaced it with a substantially broader regulatory scheme. We believe that this action has mooted Eagle's claims regarding the old statute's facial constitutionality, and accordingly vacate that portion of the District Court's judgment. As to Eagle's as-applied challenges, we affirm the District Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

I.

A. The Happy Landing Landfill

The pertinent facts of this case are not in dispute. Khodara Environmental, Inc., is the general partner of Eagle, a limited partnership based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Eagle owns approximately 680 acres in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, on which it planned to develop a solid waste disposal facility to be called the Happy Landing Landfill. Happy Landing was intended to accept municipal waste from primarily out-of-state producers. The Happy Landing site is located approximately 5.25 miles from the Dubois-Jefferson County Airport.

In 1990, Eagle began applying for the necessary landfill permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ("PDEP").1 The PDEP initially issued all four of the permits necessary for the construction and operation of Happy Landing. After obtaining these permits, Eagle began pre-construction by conducting engineering surveys and installing monitoring wells.

In September 1996, however, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission designated three streams near the Happy Landing site as wild trout streams. Based on this designation, the PDEP determined that the landfill site contained wetlands of "exceptional value" and that it consequently should not have issued to Eagle the Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permit to fill these wetland areas. Accordingly, on September 25, 1996, Steven Beckman, the Regional Director of the Northwest Regional Office of the PDEP, entered an administrative order modifying Eagle's Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permit by revoking its authorization to fill certain wetland areas. The order also suspended the remainder of that permit, as well as all of Eagle's other permits. Eagle appealed the revocation and suspension

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order to the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board. The Board denied Eagle's appeal, and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, in an Order filed on February 19, 2000, affirmed. See Khodara Environmental, L.P. v. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 2704 C.D. 1998 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Feb. 19, 2000). Eagle's appeal of the Commonwealth Court's order is currently pending, and construction of Happy Landing has been suspended until this controversy is resolved.

B. The 1996 Amendment

On October 9, 1996, Congress enacted the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-264, 110 Stat. 3213. Section 1220 of the Act (the "1996 Amendment") was drafted by Representatives Bud Schuster and William Clinger--whose Pennsylvania districts encompass Jefferson County and neighboring areas--and was inserted into the Act during a conference committee convened to debate an unrelated amendment. The 1996 Amendment provided:

(a) Landfills: [49 U.S.C.] Section 44718 is amended by adding at the end the following:

(d) Landfills: For the purpose of enhancing aviation safety, in a case in which 2 landfills have been proposed to be constructed or established within 6 miles of a commercial service airport with fewer than 50,000 enplanements per year, no person shall construct or establish either landfill if an official of the Federal Aviation Administration has stated in writing within the 3-year period ending on the date of the enactment that 1 of the landfills would be incompatible with aircraft operations at the airport, unless the landfill is already active on the such date of enactment or the airport operator agrees to the construction or establishment of the landfill.

(b) Civil Penalties: [49 U.S.C.] Section 46301 is amended by inserting 44718(d) after 44716, in each of subsections (a)(1)(A), (d)(2), and (f)(1)(A)(i).

Pub. L. No. 104-264, S 1220(a), 110 Stat. 3213, 3286. Eagle's proposed landfill fell within the statutory criteria. Both Happy Landing and a second proposed waste disposal facility, the Leatherwood Landfill,2 were located within six miles of the DuBois-Jefferson County Airport, a commercial airport with fewer than 50,000 enplanements per year. Moreover, the FAA had issued a written determination within the preceding three years that the Leatherwood facility would be incompatible with aircraft operations at the Airport.3 In fact, as the F AA has admitted on appeal, the 1996 Amendment's extremely narrow criteria affected only Happy Landing, out

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of all the landfills in the country.4

On October 21, 1996, PDEP Regional Director Beckman sent a letter to Eagle informing it that the 1996 Amendment "impacts the two proposed landfills in Jefferson County, Eagle Environmental's Happy Landing Landfill and Leatherwood, Inc.'s Jefferson Landfill." (App. 1:51.) The letter went on to explain that all of the permits previously issued for the Leatherwood landfill had been suspended in light of the new law. The letter further advised that

[t]he Department's further action regarding reinstatement and/or modification of Eagle Environmental's currently suspended permits will be governed by the same criteria applicable to Leatherwood, Inc. Thus, if Eagle seeks reinstatement or modification pursuant to the Department's September 25th Order, Eagle Environmental should also indicate to the Department how it intends to comply with Section 1220(a) of the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996.

(App. 1:51.)

On November 20, 1996, Eagle, acting pursuant to the new statutory scheme, formally sought per mission from the Clearfield-Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority (the "Airport Authority")5 to construct and operate the landfill. On November 22, the Authority responded with a letter notifying Eagle that it would accept written documentation supporting Eagle's request for a period of 30 days. The Authority also informed Eagle that it would accept documentation from other interested parties over the same period and that all the submissions it received would be made public. On December 23, 1996, Eagle provided the Authority with 14 exhibits in support of its request. At a public meeting held on January 24, 1997, the Authority's Board of Directors unanimously denied Eagle's request.

C. The District Court Litigation

On April 25, 1997, Eagle filed the present action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Eagle's first three claims, which involved facial constitutional challenges to the 1996 Amendment, were asserted against the FAA, as well as against Barry Valentine (the Acting Administrator of the FAA)6 and Steven Beckman (the Regional Director of the PDEP) in their official capacities.7 Count I of the Complaint alleged that the 1996 Amendment worked an unconstitutional delegation of federal authority to the local airport authority;

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Count II attacked the Amendment as an unconstitutional bill of attainder; and Count III challenged the law on the ground that it violated Eagle's rights to equal protection and due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Count IV of...

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