Sign the National Quiet Skies Petition
Petitioning Congressman Bill Shuster, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; Congressman Peter DeFazio, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; Greg Walden, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; Frank Pallone, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and members of Congress.
NATIONAL QUIET SKIES COALITION
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... of the United States of America, have been exposed to unhealthy levels of aircraft noise and air pollution due to the Federal Aviation Administration's NextGen program. Not only does the concentration of aircraft along Area Navigation (RNAV) flight paths threaten the health and well-being of American citizens, but we believe our fundamental right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has been violated by the FAA with the consent of the United States Congress.
We therefore propose the following:
1. Mandate a robust community engagement process, including public hearings for all new flight paths or changes to existing flight paths.
The impact of aviation air and noise pollution on affected communities must be given strong consideration when the FAA assesses proposed flight paths or changes to existing flight paths. Meaningful, two-way communication with communities is vital to ensuring that the FAA's decision making process is understood, and that the concerns of residents are heard and incorporated into the final design of new airspace. Such communication requires a vigorous and transparent effort by the FAA to notify residents of public hearings, and to grant unrestricted public access to environmental reviews, including the results of estimated noise impact levels on communities.
2. Reform Section 213(c)(2) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 and reinstate environmental reviews for all new flight paths or changes to existing flight paths.
Section 213(c)(2) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 provides a categorical exclusion from adequate environmental reviews for flight path changes implemented through the NextGen process. Environmental reviews were instituted by Congress to protect Americans from actions that could be detrimental to their lives, and bypassing such reviews in order to expedite the process is materially harmful and sets a dangerous precedent.
3. Require the FAA to lower the significant impact DNL threshold and use other variables and supplemental metrics when considering the impact of aviation noise on communities.
The FAA's current metric for quantifying aviation noise exposure, Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL), does not adequately capture the complete effects of aircraft noise on affected residents. When determining significant noise impact, the FAA must give weight to other variables (footnote-1) and utilize supplemental metrics (footnote-2) to assess the impact of aviation noise on communities.
Furthermore, the FAA's present 65 DNL standard, first established in the 1970's, is arbitrary and fails to align with current health research and the lived experience of families affected by aircraft noise. Within the FAA's primary significant impact threshold, the 65 dB DNL standard should be replaced by the 55dB DNL standard recommended by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (footnote-3).
4. Mandate that the FAA permit and fund noise mitigation for residences experiencing less than 65 DNL when other criteria suggest such measures are warranted.
Although the FAA is not legally barred from doing so, the agency has resisted funding the mitigation of homes and businesses experiencing aircraft noise levels below a 65 DNL threshold. For reasons previously described, this metric does not adequately capture the impact of noise on the lives of affected residents. Airport operators are legally allowed to implement, and must strongly consider, mitigation options in communities experiencing aircraft noise levels of less than 65 DNL.
5. Restore full funding to the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Noise Abatement and Control and grant that agency broader powers to regulate aviation noise pollution.
The FAA’s role in promoting aviation interests is in direct conflict with the needs of communities to safeguard their environment. The EPA Administrator must have the authority to examine the FAA's noise measurement methodologies, the health impact of noise pollution, and the effectiveness of the abatement/mitigation program.
6. Require the FAA to accelerate the introduction of quieter jet aircraft and press for federal funding to research and develop noise mitigation technologies.
Presently there is no federal funding dedicated to the research and development of quieter jet engines and other aviation noise mitigation technologies. Such research should be actively encouraged and supported by the FAA and Congress. In addition, the FAA must enforce an accelerated date-specific phase-out of all “Stage 3” aircraft from the nation’s commercial fleet and speed the upgrade to jet aircraft that meet or exceed more stringent “Stage 4” noise standards.
7. Mandate and accelerate independent research on the health impacts of aviation noise and air pollution.
Few federal studies have been conducted to measure the health consequences of prolonged exposure to high levels of aviation noise and aircraft exhaust gasses and particles. Better research will help to inform and improve FAA policies on these important issues.
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"Be the change you wish to see in the world."
"The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States to promote an environment for all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare."
NOISE CONTROL ACT of 1972