Senators File Legal Brief Voicing Concerns over FAA's Failure to Address Noise Pollution
Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) today announced they have filed an amicus brief in support of court challenges to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) proposed airspace redesign over Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. On Friday, the Senators submitted the brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for the case of County of Rockland, et. al v. U.S. Department of Transportation.
Dodd and Specter argue that, contrary to the requirements of federal law, the FAA did not make a serious effort to alleviate the effects of dramatically increased noise pollution on the communities impacted by the airspace redesign. The brief contends that relegating noise reduction to merely a "consideration" in the redesign project is a narrow interpretation of federal statutes and, furthermore, ignores repeated and clear Congressional action that makes noise mitigation a primary concern of the agency. The brief details the actions Congress has taken to extend the FAA's oversight authority on aviation noise pollution and mitigation.
Both Dodd and Specter have spent more than a year working with local officials, meeting with constituents, and demanding answers from the FAA about the frequency, altitude and number of flights impacting residents within the airspace redesign, but the FAA has failed to directly address the concerns that Dodd, Specter, and many other members of Congress have raised. Senator Dodd convened a town hall meeting in Norwalk to hear his constituents' concerns about the redesign plan, and has written several letters to the FAA voicing his objections. Senator Specter chaired a public hearing in Philadelphia in April 2008 to question the Acting Head of the FAA about the redesign and new flight paths.
"While an airspace redesign plan may in fact be needed, it seems that in this case the FAA opted for a quick fix at the expense of the quality of life of millions of Americans affected by their proposal," said Dodd. "Controlling noise pollution caused by air traffic is not optional for the FAA - it is mandatory. The communities who suddenly find themselves dealing with the roar of low-flying aircrafts throughout the day and night have a right to call upon their government to address this problem, and the FAA has a responsibility to take their concerns seriously."
"The FAA's failure to give due weight to considerations of noise mitigation has had a serious impact on many communities, including those in Delaware County." Specter said. "In the ongoing effort to reduce flight delays and enhance safety, it is my hope that the FAA will reconsider the redesign plan with more focus on their noise reduction mandate."
In response to environmental and other regulatory concerns about the airspace redesign plan, numerous lawsuits have been filed against the FAA. The case of County of Rockland, et. al v. U.S. Department of Transportation encompasses several pending cases, including those filed by several communities in Connecticut and Pennsylvania.