Last January, three Minneapolis legislators and three SMAAC Board Members met with Governor Walz' staff policy advisor on Transportation. A Power Point presentation had been prepared for the Governor connecting FAA and airline discussions in Washington with the extended delays in revising maximum hourly operations at MSP airport. Some of the discussions were probably back-channeled by the Republican majorities in the House Transportation and Environment Committees.
We were supportive of the Governor's initiatives on GHG reduction from State operations and we were working with Rep. DeFazio and other Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to revive interest in reducing GHG emissions from commercial aviation operations at MSP and en route --which are government functions.
As the COVID-19 crisis grew, however, more than 4 of every 5 daily commercial flights were cancelled and the PBN/RNAV approaches and departures routes and runway use rates issues were lost, postponed or redefined. At MSP, the airports commission re-organized and increased its staff and budget and the now ten-year-old update of the MSP long-term comprehensive plan is a step further removed from public or legislative concern.
SMAAC prepared a follow-up Presentation asking the Governor to explain State policy on two fronts:
A] Does the Executive Order requiring Minnesota State Departments and Agencies to reduce GHG emissions apply to the Metropolitan Airports Commission's operations at MSP and other MAC airports?
B] Since considerable GHG is released during jet flights in MSP airspace, more at busier hours, does the Governor anticipate plans will be made to reduce GHG and other pollution on a per flight basis at MSP?
It remains uncertain if the Governor, the MAC, the Met Council or State Departments (Health, MPCA, etc.) will see the presentations. SMAAC Forum has asked Governor Walz to participate in an on-line presentation and discussion on MSP operations and routes and GHG and particulate monitoring. Perhaps legislation will be proposed to include public health and safety outcomes in the MSP LTCP.
"I think we should persist." President Spensley said, "The overflight issues were made more relevant by the pandemic, since it is known that near-airport neighborhoods have more health risks, including respiratory disease and lung cancers, and COVID-19 infections likely harsher."