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Noise Deal Irks Dayton

Hurrah for Senator Dayton! Reporters didn't write as much as they should have known about how the language denying Airport Improvement Funds for noise mitigation got into the conference committee report. There is reliable evidence that it was passed to Senator Lott (R, Mississippi) by Northwest Airlines and used verbatim.

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SMAAC Public Announcement/Press Release

The South Metro Airport Action Council, SMAAC, today complained that public comments about the MSP Noise Control Program were systematically side-tracked. They offered the following sequence of events as proof.

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Regarding the Part 150 Noise Control Program Update

Letter to Ms. Vicki Grunseth, Chair, Metropolitan Airports Commission regarding the Part 150 Noise Control Program Update

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New MSP Take-Off Procedure Has Adverse Impacts

There is a change in take-offs patterns over Minneapolis and North Richfield. This change undoes an earlier procedure adopted in 1998 to reduce noise in these areas "so close to the airport". Using a letter of concern from FAA as an excuse, MAC decided to implement increased use of runways 30L and 30R at busy hours by allowing higher climb rates and faster departures for many aircraft types.

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SMAAC Doubts MAC Noise Projections Will Get Public Review

The South Metro Airport Action Committee and neighbors of MSP were rebuffed by the Noise Oversight Committee (NOC) when it did not follow a suggestion by Chad Leqve, its staff Technical Advisor, to schedule the next NOC meeting after a public meeting with MAC’s noise plan consultant. Instead, NOC set its meeting a week earlier, and left open whether or not members of the public would be allowed to speak.

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SMAAC Strongly Objects to MAC Noise Plan Limited public review

SMAAC told MAC its plan for a proposed noise plan update was way too hasty. "MAC's so-called public review process," President Jim Spensley said, "only provides for announcement of back-room projections and consequences after they were prepared by staff and recommended by the Planning and Environment Committee of the Commission with little discussion , or, for that matter, understanding. They are an unfit basis for a legal Finding of the Commission." MAC's P&E Committee was apparently not appraised of SMAAC's request, made in a May 22nd letter to the Commission, for hearings and an opportunity for knowledgeable public advocates to testify and to question how assumptions and forecasts were prepared. During its June 5th meeting, the Committee moved the staff report along to the full commission, although P&E Chair Carol Houle suggested action there might be "tabled to allow more public discussions".

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Formal Request for Public Hearings

NOTE: SMAAC wrote the following letter to MAC on May 22nd, which was the day MAC announced its noise update assumptions and held its first and only scheduled meeting for "public input". This letter has never been acknowledged, much less considered by the Commission or the Planning and Environment Committee, although it was hand-delivered to MAC at the "public input" meeting where it was asserted by Mr. Chad Leqve that all oral and written comments received would be considered BY THE COMMISSION. At the June meeting of MAC, SMAAC inquired if this letter had been distributed to all Commissioners [yes], discussed by the P&E Committee prior to their meeting that "recommended" assumptions to the full Commission [no], or reported by MAC's Counsel or Senior staff [no].

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Citizen's Group Says New Noise Map Lacks Credibility

The South Metro Airport Action Council (SMAAC) found that the new "mitigated noise exposure map" released last week by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) glosses over misstatements and undisclosed assumptions. "Technical terms, and common terms interpreted differently than ordinary usage, challenge public debate about airport noise." SMAAC announced. "MAC falsely represents past, present, and future noise exposure as is apparent by simply comparing their own maps." The public often hears that aircraft noise is being abated by manufacturers and by airline retirements of older airliners. While it is true that new aircraft are somewhat less noisy, the gains forecast were not realized. More and different operations than forecast resulted in far more noise exposure than either the "official 1996" forecast map or the new 2007 forecast map show. "Actual noise exposure maps prepared for the 1998 EIS and the Part 150 Update withdrawn for 2001 prove that forecasts and other inputs to the computer model missed, literally, by a mile." SMAAC said. "We were rebuffed by MAC when we noted that maps based on actual operations showed airliner changes, which rarely occurred when forecast anyway, were overwhelmed by more flights and more variations in where they flew." Noise exposure counts the people overflown, and more flights require approachin g and departing aircraft to fly over new areas. And so will the new runway. "The noise map based on 2002 use and an unlikely operations plan for 2007 undoubtedly misrepresents noise exposure and arbitrarily makes thousands of people ineligible for any relief." according to SMAAC. "Noise exposure has increased, not abated, around MSP by increased daily use of Stage 2 aircraft and more flights of all kinds since 1996, the last time noise exposure was mapped." Homes in the new 60 DNL areas were projected in 63 DNL areas in the old map and shown fairly often in, or on the fringe of 65 DNL areas in EIS maps. Some residents in Mendota Heights also noted that the 1996 forecast map (analogous to the 2007 base map this go-around) did not correctly model MSP operations, and therefore could not predict noise exposure even within its margin of error (resolution). SMAAC says this situation is similar and familiar.

"Hidden in the computer inputs, in both cases, is a hoped-for at best, lied-about at worst, plan for runway uses and operations." SMAAC said. "Commissioners did not discuss this aspect of drawing the noise exposure maps, nor consider that historically operational assumptions were impossible to implement." In a letter to FAA, endorsed by Senator Dayton, SMAAC asked if Federal regulations required Part 150 plans to be based on "safe and feasible" operational plans. The answer was neither "Yes." or "No." FAA said that because by regulation "significant (increasing or decreasing noise exposure) operational changes" require noise exposure plans (Noise Compatibility Programs) to be amended to the new situation. SMAAC is contesting the process for maintaining, as well as the propriety of, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP) Noise Compatibility Program. Thousands of people were exposed to excessive noise because noise abatement measures were not realized or, more likely, falsely projected. Public attention has been drawn to the noise mitigation projects undertaken since the requirement for a MSP Noise Compatibility Program was imposed on the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) by the Minnesota legislature in 1996; and, on the Federal Aviation Agency and the MAC by the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in 1998. The current update would be a relatively minor adjustment, focused on any excess noise and non-compliant use of MSP compared to operations during 2001. It isn't, because the for-2001 (1996 base year) noise exposure map was withdrawn. Noise abatement was, is, and likely will be, far less than projected in the now 10-year-old plan. Non-compliant use was, and will be, far greater than projected. In the case of the just-released Update, the MSP Noise Compatibility Program over-estimates noise reduction under the parallels, because it will be extremely difficult to impossible to divert as many aircraft as projected onto the new runway. Stated as per cent of all flights, diversion is, of course, as wrong as the projection of total flights.

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