Two major city airports should be exempt from a new federal rule that would allow flight changes to be made without an environmental review, Queens congressmembers are demanding.
Representatives Steve Israel, Grace Meng and Joseph Crowley are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue to implement change impact studies at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airports.
A proposed FAA provision would establish two new categorical exclusions to avoid an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, elected officials said.
The new rule, officials said, would essentially allow the FAA to permanently implement new flight procedures without conducting environmental studies.
“The FAA should be focused on reducing noise and air pollution,” Israel said, “not making it easier to bypass vital environmental studies.”
The congressmembers said the head of the FAA, Administrator Michael Huerta, has the ability to exempt the two airports, which use “the most congested airspace in the country.”
A categorical exclusion was applied to a newly approved flight path over Queens called the TNNIS IV climb. Residents said the change has brought upon a barrage of low-flying planes and an increase in air noise.
“It is outrageous that the FAA is seeking greater leeway to exempt itself from vital environmental studies which determine whether or not new airplane routes — and the accompanying noise — adversely impact affected communities,” Meng said.
“The agency’s plan to further sidestep this critical process is a slap in the face to all who live and work underneath new flight patterns,” she continued.
Queens residents have until September 30 to submit public comment to the FAA on the proposed rule by visiting https://www.regulations.gov.
They can also fax comments to 202-493-2251 or mail them to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.
“There isn’t a single plane that comes or goes from our airports that doesn’t fly directly over someone’s house,” Crowley said.
“Given this reality,” Crowley continued, “whenever the FAA is considering changes to the way flights arrive at and depart from our airports, the agency must thoroughly study the impacts it will have on our communities, especially with respect to noise.”