The following letter was sent August 30, 2018.

Letter sent to Senators McConnell and Schumer on behalf of 20 organizations in favor of fair air traffic distribution

Dear Senators McConnell and Schumer:

‘WE THE PEOPLE’ are the words that represent the cornerstone of every American’s right to live a life free from oppression and injustice. We are a nation of laws that aim to protect health, quality of life, security, and individual rights. Under these laws, we have created agencies that were intended to serve ALL the people, but in short time most of these agencies end up captured in service of narrow corporate interests. FAA is a prime example, captured in service of the aviation industry while failing the People.

We all understand that it is the duty of our government to uphold the values of our constitutional right to be protected from undue harm. Congress authorized FAA’s NextGen program in 2003. Sadly, the NextGen implementation has proven to be a full-frontal attack on citizens and communities, solely to benefit airline profit-margins. Routes have been concentrated and lowered, forcing citizens to lose sleep and forget peace under nearly nonstop noise assaults. The noise diminishes mental health and civility, while the air pollutants destroy our cardiovascular health, especially for children and the elderly. This is oppressive and unjust.

Recently, a coalition of 33 aviation industry organizations sent a letter to the Senate, urging quick passage of FAA’s reauthorization. Please do not make the mistake of capitulating to their request. You are OUR Congress, and a critical part of OUR democratic process. You have the power and authority to intervene on behalf of ‘WE THE PEOPLE’, to restore the balance between air commerce and community health, the balance that was stolen by FAA. The current reauthorization process is your moment to shine. Please, do your job.

We ask that you consider these facts as you proceed:

  • The coalition letter conveniently made no mention of the growing body of scientific research and studies showing the dangerous health effects to the public due to aircraft noise and emissions. Nor did the coalition letter bring up the topic of health costs or the loss of real estate value on the homes under the NextGen superhighways in the sky.
  • FAA continues to rely on data generated by noise models, not by actual studies done on the ground. FAA continues to use the fake DNL noise metric to pretend our community impacts do not exist. A replacement set of functional and valid noise metrics should have been mandated decades ago. Congress can (and should) do this. Now, please.
  • Because there is so much money in aviation, we can be sure that the economic benefits associated with commercial airports will happen regardless of what the Senate does. But, if the Senate fails to do their job, and does not adequately debate needed reforms, the cost/benefit balance will be further skewed. Costs will include deeper community suffering, while benefits will narrowly concentrate to the airline industry. The injustice of this cost-shifting is obvious.
  • FAA has devolved into an agency whose only concern is helping increase industry profits. It is infuriating how FAA routinely declares ‘safety’ as the reason for NextGen changes that pack flights in with tighter spacing, flown lower to the ground (with less safety margin), and with higher impacts upon community members.
  • We have heard the false narrative from the FAA time and time again, asserting that the NextGen changes create “no significant impact” on communities. Let’s be clear: FAA has proven itself to be the fox guarding the aviation henhouse. FAA lies incessantly and spends our public resources ‘collaborating’ with industry to push a disinformation campaign with pro-industry propaganda.
  • The NextGen flight automation technologies have a precision that offers us all the potential to minimize impacts, but FAA is refusing to pursue this potential. Instead, FAA is using NextGen as a hammer to disempower people. Local communities need Congress to restore meaningful local control, so that airlines and airport authorities can no longer metastasize their hubs into airports that are ‘Too Big to Fly’, airports that are brutalizing the people below.

‘WE THE PEOPLE’ refuse to continue to be FAA’s collateral damage. We demand that our elected officials serve all of us, not just the ascending corporatocracy. Please, do NOT pass FAA reauthorization until the bill includes needed FAA reforms.

Sincerely,

  • aiREFORM!
  • Airport Impact Relief, Inc.
  • BOS Fair Skies
  • Dr. Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, City University of New York
  • Dr. Valerie I. Elmalem, MD, Assistant Professor, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Fair Skies Nation
  • GrotonAyerBuzz
  • Hull Neighbors for Quiet Skies
  • Logan AircraftNoise Working Group
  • Monte Nido Valley Community Association
  • Plane Sense 4 LI
  • Raintree for Quiet Skies
  • Quiet Skies Coalition 3
  • Quiet Skies Santa Monica Mountains
  • Scottsdale Coalition for Airport Noise Abatement
  • Studio City for Quiet Skies
  • Sky Justice National Network
  • STOP Jet Noise NOW!
  • Vashon Island Fair Skies
  • West Adams for Quiet Skies

The above letter was sent to:

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
601 W. Broadway Room 630
Louisville, Kentucky 40202

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader, U.S. Senate
780 Third Avenue, Suite 2301
New York, New York 10017

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