could rely on the fact that their enplanement funds would be held for them for the three year period provided in the Act, and not be allowed to lapse because the administration refused to spend the minimum authorized amount.
This concern of Congress is illustrated by the legislative history of the 1971 amendments to the Act, which put restrictions on the use of the Trust Fund, limiting it strictly to capital development projects and those expenses necessary to administer the grants. 49 U.S.C.A. § 1714(e)(3). The impetus for this amendment was the Department of Transportation's budget request of less than the minimum authorized amounts in the first year of the Act. Members of Congress were concerned that the Department apparently intended to employ the residual balance of Trust Fund monies for FAA operational and maintenance expenses rather than for airport development.
The Congressional reports refer to the retention of tax money in the Trust Fund 'until used' for development,
to thus 'accumulate user revenues to be employed in the capital development program.'
During floor debate, supporters of the bill spoke of maintaining 'the sanctity of the trust fund'
which 'must be preserved in order to meet the captial requirements of the aviation system.'
These statements imply that Trust Fund monies are to remain available for obligation after the original authorization, contrary to the argument of the defendants that the Appropriations Acts limited the Department of Transportation's annual obligational authority to a sum not exceeding the current year's minimum authorization.
In opposing the 1971 Amendments, the Department itself argued that since the Act authorizes expenditures over a period of 10 years, it would 'speed up' grants in later years to compensate for the shortfall which occurred during the first year of the Act.
At a hearing on the amendments, a representative of the Department of Transportation indicated that the 'balance of 403 million dollars in the trust fund at the end of fiscal year 1971 . . . will be completely eliminated during fiscal year 1972 as the proper adjustment is made to balance out the 2-year period.'
These statements were made despite the fact that the Appropriations Act for each year of the existence of the Airport and Airway Development Act had contained almost identical language
which the Department now claims precludes them from using Trust Fund money to fulfill statutory entitlements from prior years.
2. Language of the Statutes
As discussed above,
defendants' refusal to obligate to Los Angeles its enplanement entitlement is based on their interpretation of § 302 of the Appropriations Act as a limitation on the amount of money that can be obligated in any given year. If this yearly Appropriations Act is construed to impose a limit on the minimum amounts previously authorized to be obligated, however, then the Appropriations Act would effectively repeal some part of the original statute which authorized a higher level of funding. Courts should not uphold such a repeal by implication if the two statutes can be interpreted in a consistent manner. United States v. Borden Co., 308 U.S. 188, 198-9, 60 S. Ct. 182, 84 L. Ed. 181 (1939).
The provisions of the Airport and Airway Development Act for mandatory minimum authorizations to remain available for a period of three years can be readily reconciled with § 302 of the Appropriations Act. The language of § 302 limits FAA 'administrative expenses' but does not directly purport to put a limitation on the previously established obligational authority. Interpreting § 302 as a limitation on administrative expenses, rather than obligational authority, is also consistent with the purpose expressed in the legislative history of the 1971 amendments to preserve the trust fund for distribution to airport projects and to prevent the FAA from using it to pay for general expenses which were not connected with airport and airway development.
Defendants' interpretation of § 302, on the other hand, would contradict the statutory format providing that the minimum amounts apportioned each year may accumulate for up to three years. Under defendants' interpretation, there would never be enough funds available for all airport sponsors to get their current apportionments plus any backlog that may have accumulated from prior years. Defendants admit that enough money is currently in the Trust Fund with which to obligate to Los Angeles its statutory entitlement. It would thus be illogical for Congress to pass a limitation on yearly obligational authority with the result that some 193 million dollars is left frozen in the Trust Fund with no way for the FAA to distribute it to sponsors who are entitled to the funds under the statute. Furthermore, if Congress had intended to put a limitation on yearly expenditures previously authorized, it could have done so straight forwardly through an amendment, rather than changing the statutory funding scheme through an ambiguous section of an appropriations act. In fact, Congress increased obligational authority by amending § 1714 in 1973,
which indicates that Congress could likewise have decreased obligational authority by amendment to the Airport Act.
The obligation power comes from the 1970 Act itself and its amendments increasing the authorized amounts. The Appropriations Act does not alter the obligation power in any way but rather serves to limit FAA administrative expenses. This interpretation resolves the 'paradox' which defendants have argued was created by Congress, and it is also consistent with the clear intent of Congress in establishing annual apportionments of minimum amounts with a three year carryover provision. Thus, FAA now has the power and the duty to obligate to Los Angeles the $ 9,585,000 to which it is entitled under the Airport and Airway Development Act.
This Court concludes that Los Angeles is entitled to a grant in the amount of the unobligated balance of the funds apportioned to it by the Department of Transportation and the FAA for fiscal years 1974 and 1975. The statute provides for a mandatory formula for distribution of grants-in-aid, and the FAA's priority system is in direct contravention of the controlling legislation. The Appropriations Act is not in conflict with the Airport Act and does not justify the withholding of the enplanement funds to which Los Angeles is entitled.
Although plaintiff's application has substantially met the requirements of project eligibility as required by FAA regulations, it became apparent at the June 10th hearing in this matter that no final determination had yet been made of the project's compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969
or the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.
It appeared to the Court from the testimony, however, that only a few minor details remained before Los Angeles would have made a complete submission to the agency. This Court's order in favor of plaintiff Los Angeles is therefore conditional upon compliance with the requirements of the above statutes. The FAA will also be required to review forthwith any submissions of plaintiff Los Angeles so that the funds may be obligated to Los Angeles before June 30, 1975.
It is hereby this 23rd day of June, 1975
Ordered that counsel for plaintiff shall submit forthwith an Order consistent with the foregoing Memorandum Opinion.
List of Exhibits Admitted
A through E -- FAA annual reports to Congress for fiscal years 1970 to 1974, mentioning the use of the priority system for airport grants. F -- FAA internal explanation of the priority system. G -- FAA calculations showing the unapportioned enplanement balance designated for Los Angeles. H -- October 10, 1974 notice to Los Angeles that it was eligible to submit an application. M and M-1 -- Department of Transportation and FAA newsletters announcing nationwide apportionments for fiscal years 1974 and 1975. S and T -- Letters from the FAA to Los Angeles in May, 1975, informing Los Angeles of deficiencies in its application with regard to environmental and relocation requirements.
1 -- Letter from the Environmental Protection Agency to the FAA to the effect that EPA had no objections to the Los Angeles project. 2 -- Affidavit of Los Angeles Airport employee and attached documentation showing compliance with the relocation requirements. 3 -- Supplement to Los Angeles' environmental impact statement designed to answer the remaining questions of the FAA.