U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) released the following statement on the Grand Canyon overflights provision in the Highway Bill conference agreement passed by the Senate today:
"We are pleased with the overflights provision in the conference agreement. It requires air tour operators to install noise reduction equipment and finally settles a protracted debate over what constitutes "quiet' at Grand Canyon Nation Park. This legislation also thwarts a recent Obama Administration proposal to ban up to 77 percent of the Park from air tours, which would have killed hundreds of tourism jobs. That plan was deeply flawed and would have severely diminished a unique sightseeing experience. Fortunately, this provision ensures that visitors who might otherwise be unable to explore the Grand Canyon, particularly the elderly, disabled, and our nation's wounded warriors, will be able to continue to enjoy the Canyon in one of the most unique ways possible. The stunning beauty of the Grand Canyon should be shared among everyone, not locked away for a small group of activists demanding absolute quiet, everywhere, at all hours."
The provision in the Highway Bill passed today builds on a standard developed by the Park Service in 1996 requiring that 50 percent of the Park be free of aircraft noise each day to be considered "quiet." The standard established in the conference agreement represents a significant reduction in aircraft noise compared to the noise level that existed when Congress passed the National Park Overflights Act of 1987 and further codifies the intent of the Act. Senator McCain authored the provisions of that Act that directed Park Service and FAA to reduce aircraft noise at the Grand Canyon.