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CITY OF HARRISBURG NATL. WEATHER SERV. EMPLES. ORG

November 13, 1992

CITY OF HARRISBURG NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE EMPLOYEES ORGANIZATION BRANCHES 1-36, 1-56, 1-14, Plaintiffs
v.
BARBARA H. FRANKLIN, Secretary U.S. Department of Commerce, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM W. CALDWELL

 We are considering the parties' motions for reconsideration of our Memorandum and Order of September 22, 1992, in which we granted summary judgment to defendant. *fn1"

 We believe additional briefing and the recent enactment of the Weather Service Modernization Act of 1992, Pub. L. No. 102-567 (to be codified at 15 U.S.C. § 313), ("1992 Act") warrant a reexamination of our earlier decision. *fn2"

 I. Facts

 The National Weather Service ("NWS"), an agency within the Commerce Department, is in the process of modernizing its facilities according to a ten-year plan prepared at the behest of Congress. Much of the equipment used in NWS offices is more than a quarter of a century old. In directing the Secretary of Commerce to develop a modernization plan, Congress provided a certification procedure to ensure that no substantive change would occur in certain NWS offices without the NWS certifying to Congress that the change would not degrade weather forecast service. This provision is at the heart of the present controversy.

 (b) CERTIFICATION. -- The Secretary shall not close, consolidate, automate, or relocate any field office, unless the Secretary has certified that such action will not result in any degradation of service.

 1992 Act at § 706. The definitional section of the new law notes that "'field office' means any National Weather Service Office or National Weather Service Forecast Office," § 702(5), and that "'relocate' means to transfer from one location to another location that is outside the local commuting or service area," § 702(7).

 This action involves NWS plans regarding three field offices in Pennsylvania, the Harrisburg Weather Service Office, the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center (in Harrisburg), and the Philadelphia weather Service Forecast Office. The NWS plans to move the two Harrisburg offices to State College, Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia office to Mount Holly, New Jersey. *fn3" The plaintiffs, the City of Harrisburg and the National Weather Service Employees Organization, complain that the NWS intends to make those moves in violation of the certification requirement. *fn4"

 II. Law and Discussion

 The present motions require us to determine in what circumstances defendant must comply with the certification requirement. Defendant again argues that the certification requirement does not include River Forecast Centers. In their motion, plaintiffs argue that we should reconsider our decision because defendant has already indicated her intention not to certify the moves of the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center and the Philadelphia Weather Service Forecast Office because she believes the certification requirement to be inapplicable to those moves.

 Resolution of these pending motions requires us to address two issues: (1) whether the certification requirement applies to River Forecast Centers and (2) whether the certification requirement applies to the sort of move defendant proposes for the Philadelphia office. We will address them seriatim.

 A. River Forecast Centers

 In our earlier Memorandum and Order, we held that the legislative history and the language of the statute did not demonstrate that Congress meant to exclude River Forecast Centers from the certification requirement. Reference to the 1992 Act and ...


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