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Public Statements

Faa Reauthorization And Reform Act Of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the amendment that I'm offering along with my southern California colleagues, Mr. Sherman and Mr. Berman. This amendment would allow airports that meet specific requirements--airports that already had at least a partial curfew in effect before the 1990 Airport Noise Control Act, ANCA, to implement mandatory nighttime curfews. The amendment defines a nighttime curfew as between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and affects only two small airports that have partial curfews--or a full curfew, in the case of Bob Hope--before the passage of ANCA. It does not intend to open the door to any further exemptions from ANCA.

When Congress enacted ANCA, it intended for the statute to permit airports to obtain noise restrictions if they met certain requirements. At the time, Congress exempted several airports from the law's requirements for FAA approval of new noise rules if they had preexisting noise rules in effect to address local noise problems. Both airports in southern California that would be affected by this amendment have a long history of curfews and were, unfortunately, left out of the grandfather provision of ANCA. Our amendment would correct this inequity and put those airports on the same footing as other airports that had curfews before ANCA's passage. One of the airports affected, Bob Hope Airport, was one of the first airports in the country to impose a curfew. The Van Nuys Airport also had a partial curfew prior to ANCA. The amendment therefore corrects the omission of not providing curfews to these airports since they already had a full or partial curfew in effect before 1990.

This amendment is supported by the local airports themselves and has the full support of the local congressional delegation. Opponents of the amendment contend there's already an established process to consider a community's request for a curfew. However, the process was designed to be so difficult that in the decades since it was established by the FAA, only one airport in the Nation has successfully completed an application--Bob Hope Airport--and then it was summarily turned down. After spending $7 million and 9 years of effort, the FAA rejected Bob Hope's request, erroneously contending that the small number of flights impacted by the curfew would impose too great a strain on the country's aviation system and too great a cost on users. In reality, the FAA approached this process in reverse, beginning with the conclusion it wished to reach and working backwards to try and justify its result.

It's also important to note that my colleagues understand the impact this amendment will have on aviation in southern California. There will be no impact on commercial flights. Commercial airlines do not operate out of Van Nuys and commercial airlines already abide by a voluntary nighttime curfew at Bob Hope Airport. The impact on general aviation will be very limited. About nine flights each night are expected to be affected. Because of the FAA's dismissive attitude toward legitimate local concerns, it is clear to us that the only way to provide relief to the residents in our community is through a legislative action.

For this reason, Mr. Chairman, I strongly urge my colleagues to support this amendment. It will correct an omission in the Airport Noise Control Act. Local problems require local solutions, not solutions imposed by a Federal agency with a predetermined agenda.

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Mr. SCHIFF. I thank the chairman and appreciate the time that he spent to discuss this issue with us. I would just make a couple of points before I yield to my colleague, and that is that this will only restore an inequity at the time of ANCA.

Had ANCA exempted each of the airports that had a curfew in place at the time, we wouldn't be here because this problem would have been taken care of. So it doesn't really create a precedent that will erode the system, destroy the system. What it will say is all airports that had a curfew in place should be treated the same way.

And as a further illustration of the minimal impact it will have, both airports support this. And LAX, the major airport in the area, the authority that controls LAX also supports this. So the other major airport that would be impacted by any potential overflow supports this as well. There's uniformity within the airports in our region.

With that, I yield the balance of my time to my colleague from California (Mr. Sherman).

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Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for that, and I know my colleague Representative Waters thanks you for that. Let me just briefly state for the record a couple of points that my colleague would like me to make, and then I'd be happy to yield the balance of my time.

This amendment states that it is the sense of Congress that Los Angeles World Airports, the operator of LA International Airport, LAX, should consult on a regular basis with representatives of the community surrounding LAX regarding airport operations and plans to expand, modify or realign airport facilities.

LAX, one of the world's busiest airports, is located in Representative Waters' congressional district. According to LAWA's Web site, LAX is the sixth busiest airport in the world for passengers, and it ranks 13th in the world in air cargo tonnage handled. There were 656,000 takeoffs and landings at LAX in 2006. Unfortunately, each of these takeoffs and landings makes noise.

LAWA is currently in the process of realigning the runways on the north side of the airport. Depending upon the runway configuration that is chosen, this realignment could have a tremendous impact on the local community. Residents of Westchester and Playa del Rey, which are located adjacent to the north runways, are strongly opposed to any proposal to move the runways farther north, which could force some families to leave their homes. Residents of the city of Inglewood and the communities of Vermont Knolls and south Los Angeles, which lie to the east of LAX, underneath the flight path of the planes that use the runways, are concerned that reconfiguration will result in an increase in airport noise.

Some of the people who are most impacted by LAX operations do not even benefit from the services that LAX is intended to provide. LAX serves people from all across southern California, but many of the people who live closest to the airport are low-income who cannot afford the benefits of air travel. In communities like Los Angeles, where airports are located near residents who can't afford to use them, it is all the more important that the airport operators listen to the concerns of those residents.

This is a simple, nonbinding amendment that will not affect other airports. I thank the chairman for his support, and urge my colleagues to support this as well.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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