Today U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-1) introduced bi-partisan legislation, the Grand Canyon Tourism Jobs Protection Act of 2012 (HR 4198), that protects tourism jobs and preserves natural quiet at the Grand Canyon National Park. Arizona Congressmen Trent Franks, David Schweikert, Ben Quayle, Jeff Flake, and the entire Nevada Congressional Delegation joined Gosar as original co-sponsors of the bill.
"The National Park Service's onerous air tour regulations rely on flawed data that ignores the millions of dollars that industry has proactively invested to reduce noise. My bill is meant to protect this vital aspect of our tourism economy which employs over 1,250 people and generates millions of dollars of economic activity. It ensures all visitors will have the ability to view the park by air if they wish to do so, but in a manner that maintains "natural quiet" for those visiting the Canyon by foot," said Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-1).
"We do not need more onerous, unnecessary, and job-killing regulations in this country. I fully support Congressman Gosar's Grand Canyon Tourism Jobs Protection Act which safeguards the U.S. Air Tour Industry that has been providing tourists, including the elderly, physically limited and time constrained visitors, the eagle eye view of the Grand Canyon since the late 1930's," said Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-2).
"It is vital that we protect the Grand Canyon air tourism industry from heavy handed regulation and federal overreach. There is simply no need for the job-killing regulations the federal government has proposed," said Congressman Ben Quayle (AZ-3).
"I am proud to stand with my colleagues, under the leadership of Rep. Gosar, to protect Arizona's tourism industry and stand against Washington's overreach in the Grand Canyon state," said Congressman Dave Schweikert (AZ-5).
"Noise pollution in the Grand Canyon can be addressed while still protecting the vital air tourism industry and without threatening hundreds of jobs," said Congressman Jeff Flake (AZ-6).
"The proposed changes to the definition of natural quiet over the Grand Canyon would negatively affect air tourism businesses and result in a loss of jobs for southern Nevada. This legislation aims to codify the definition of natural quiet, and will provide certainty to air tour operators and stability to Nevada's tourism industry. I thank Congressman Gosar for his leadership on this issue and will work with my colleagues to move this bill forward," said Congressman Joe Heck (NV-1)
"I am proud to join my fellow Arizonans in the House in supporting the Grand Canyon overflights legislation introduced by Congressman Gosar. It's similar to legislative language I've proposed in the past and it represents a balanced approach to closing out the troubled 25-year long process that began under the National Parks Overflight Act of 1987. Unfortunately, the Nation Park Service has proposed a flawed air tour management plan that will decimate air tourism industry. Through this bill we can achieve our goal of preserving the natural quiet of the Grand Canyon while also maintaining the unique visitation experience for the elderly and disabled that only air tours can provide," said Senator John McCain (AZ-R).
The Federal Aviation Administration adopted robust regulations that have substantially reduced air tour-related noise in the Grand Canyon as required by the 1987 National Parks Overflights Act. Those regulations created a special flight rules area and placed significant restrictions on air tour operations, including: limiting air tours to 15% of the Park, setting minimum altitudes and operating distances from certain landmarks, setting operating curfews, and establishing an annual allocation and reporting scheme.
The National Park Service (NPS) is now arbitrarily modifying the definition of "natural quiet" to require at least 67% of the Park to be quiet 75% to 100% of the time, an increase of 17% based on the current standard. According to an independent economic analysis, the NPS' misguided plan would kill hundreds of tourism jobs and cause operators to lose approximately $18 million in the first year alone. It is important to note that over the last five years, air tour operators have spent millions of dollars voluntarily investing in quiet technology aircraft.