Coleman Takes Northwest's Side on Airport Noise

Questions for Senator Coleman We thought Senator Coleman's criticism of Northwest Airlines tactics was over-compensated by his sympathy with an anonymous Northwest Airlines official who "firmly believes ... that by [toughening] those standards ... a huge economic burden is placed on them without any scientific basis". [Quote from the Star-Tribune Business Section today.]

Of course, their scheme was to ease existing standards fully documented as a legal basis for funding treatment in Southwest Minneapolis and North Richfield and also agreed to by Northwest in return for a ceiling on its payments to MAC for capital improvements and operating fees. The story implies these "commitments" originated in 1995, but that DNL map was approved in 1994 before expansion was decided; discussions with Minneapolis and neighborhood groups resulted in the FEIS finally approved in 1998, and the ceiling was "negotiated" with Northwest Airlines in 2000.

As yet, the "standards" have not been chosen, and no one knows where the 65 DNL contour or where the 60 DNL contour would be if it were. There are noise maps associated with the FEIS for Expansion of MSP, approved in 1998, but being ignored by MAC, whose announced plan is to apply 2007 map "standards" and skip 1996 to 2006 mitigations of noise. What "other airlines" signed a lease with the commission pledging to underwrite $70 million of $150 million in future noise insulation? [Quote from the Star-Tribune Business Section today.] SMAAC doubts there is a pledge, or even a mention, of SIP costs in MAC leases. Northwest Airlines was given an ethically questionable lease ceiling deal, perhaps based on persuading MAC staff that the SIP budget could be reduced during the lease period from $70 million to $150 million. If Northwest "pledged" $70 million, they have been faithless to the pledge every year during budget discussions!


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