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N.Y. Court Clears Path |For Bay County Airport

NEW YORK (CN) - In a setback for environmentalists, the 2nd Circuit lifted a stay that had stopped the construction of Florida's Panama City-Bay County International Airport since the end of November.

The National Resources Defense Council, the Defenders of Wildlife and a group of recreational pilots had accused the Federal Aviation Administration of violating federal law by allowing the airport to be moved to 4,000 acres of Bay County land donated by the St. Joe Company.

The existing airport is bordered by the sea, a road and buildings and has nowhere to expand.

Environmentalists claimed the agency did not fully consider a range of alternatives or the project's impact on the environment - specifically its impact on the habitat of the ivory-billed woodpecker, which some say is extinct, while others claim it is perilously endangered. The new airport will be built on 1,400 acres and will include a 105,000 square-foot passenger terminal, an 8,500-foot primary runway and a 5,000 square-foot crosswind runway. About 3,600 acres will be set aside for future development.

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