National Resources Defense Council vs. the FCC

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit against the FCC on May 14, 2018. NRDC is challenging the legality of the FCC’s March 30, 2018 order exempting "small wireless facilities" from environmental review.

In order for NRDC to have standing to challenging the FCC’s ruling, the NRDC needs statements from its members about the harm to them of densified 4G/5G technology. The NRDC lawyers have asked me to forward this request to my email lists:

"Please share the following email address to help us identify NRDC members who might be interested in providing a statement regarding the harm from 4G/5G technology and siting of the so-called small wireless cells needed to deploy it. Such statements are necessary to give us standing to sue the FCC in court and invalidate the Commission’s recent action. Ideally, the individuals will need to identify specific existing, proposed or reasonably foreseeable facilities that affect where they live, go to school or areas/ communities to which they have a regular connection."

  • Statements should be emailed to

  • Reference Case No. 18-1135 in the subject line of your email.

Time is of the essence. Initial submissions by the parties are due July 2. In addition to NRDC, ten Indian tribes are challenging the FCC’s ruling because it also exempts small wireless facilities from review under the National Historic Preservation Act. The CTIA and Sprint have intervened against NRDC and the Indian tribes and are likely to file motions to dismiss for lack of standing.

The FCC’s ruling defines "small wireless facilities" as any facilities that are up to 50 feet tall, OR do not extend more than ten percent higher than other adjacent structures, whichever is greater — OR the antennas do not extend more than ten percent higher than the structure they are mounted on. In other words, virtually NO wireless facilities (not just 5G) that are built from now on will be subject to environmental or historic preservation review.

  • If you are an NRDC member and you presently live near any cell tower up to 50 feet tall and you are being harmed by it, you quality and can submit a statement.

  • If you are an NRDC member and you live near any cell tower of any height, so long as it is not much taller than adjacent structures, you also qualify.


The deadline for submission is July 2nd so we need to act quickly on this. I contacted the NRDC attorney working on the case and passed along some information that I thought he would find useful and he said they still don’t have “strong” testimony, although they have received a few related comments. But, they need more.

I asked if we can issue a statement on behalf of another person who has been harmed or on behalf of neighborhood children at a local playground (as this is the only small cell installation near where I live in WA State.) I was told that I had to be personally harmed health wise or due to the aesthetic factor of a small cell near where I live or a place where I often engage in recreational activities.

The person submitting testimony needs to be an NRDC member;