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New York senators want to re-establish EPA oversight on plane noise

New York senators want to re-establish EPA oversight on plane noise
U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand introduce new legislation that would return airplane issues to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Photo by Michael Shain
By Bill Parry

Both U.S. senators from New York state believe the federal Environmental Protection Agency should take the lead role in airplane noise abatement.

Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced new legislation last Friday that empowers the EPA to oversee airplane noise issues across the country, including in the noise-plagued neighborhoods surrounding JFK and LaGuardia airports. While the Federal Aviation Administration currently oversees airplane noise issues, Schumer and Gillibrand explained that the EPA is better fit to address these matters.

“Communities in the New York metro area have long struggled with incessant airplane noise caused by the highly trafficked skies and it’s time we set up an office dedicated to tackling this issue head -on,” Schumer said. “Airplane noise is a major quality-of-life issue and that’s why it makes sense for the EPA to take the lead role in addressing these matters. This legislation will once again set up an Office of Noise Abatement and Control at the EPA so that environmental experts can address airplane noise.”

Due to budget cuts in 1981, the EPA’s Office of Noise Abatement and Control was dismantled and the FAA was given oversight into all matters involving airplane noise pollution. Schumer and Gillibrand’s “Quiet Communities Act of 2016” would restore the EPA’s office and would require the EPA Administrator to conduct a study of airport noise and examine the FAA’s selection of noise measurement methodologies, health impact thresholds, and abatement program effectiveness.”

“This legislation will provide additional tools to assist communities in addressing excessive airplane noise by re-establishing the EPA Office of Noise Abatement and Control,” Gillibrand said. “The federal government must take more proactive steps to address the concerns of New Yorkers who are affected by airplane noise, and this bill will give the EPA the ability to act.”

Under the legislation, the EPA would conduct research on the impacts of noise and provide technical assistance and grants to communities to mitigate noise. The bill was first introduced by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) in the House of Representatives last year.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) has launched an online form where residents can voice their concerns about airplane noise, particularly in Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst, two neighborhoods affected by low-flying aircraft using LaGuardia’s Runway 22.

“It has always been my position that the Port Authority should work to alleviate traffic on Runway 22 during the early morning hours, especially on weekends when residents are at rest,” Peralta said. “While I understand that weather conditions often come into play and may dictate otherwise, it is important that the Port Authority works to minimize use of Runway 22 at these times because of man-made factors such as construction.”

Those seeking to comment online may go to www.nysenate.gov/questionnaires/jose-peralta/voice-your-concerns-about-airplane-noise. Peralta’s office will relay the information to the Port Authority.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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