The South Metro Airport Action Council today released a letter to the Metropolitan Airports Commission objecting to rulings by the MSP Noise Oversight Committee that all future noise comments from anyone must be submitted to the Noise Oversight Committee member who represents the city where the person resides.
MAC only allows public comments, given without discussion at quarterly input meetings, to reach NOC as organized or restated by staff. With important noise abatement decisions being made at least monthly, NOC has already recommended a position to the Commission by the time most public comments or questions are received. SMAAC, other organizations, cities not represented on NOC, school officials, business owners, impacted citizens, and elected officials followed their comments to NOC, but were turned away. At its second meeting, NOC Co-Chair Kathleen Nelson, of Northwest Airlines, ruled that only NOC Members and presenters specifically invited in advance could speak. Written comments were received for NOC by staff but their disposition is unknown. At its third meeting, the Chair ruled that citizens' comments had to be vetted by the appropriate city member and pertinent to the meeting agenda to be discussed by NOC.
If the piles of transcripts, letters, papers, charts, and recordings eventually reach the Commissioners, they are outside the flow of information being discussed. In the case of the Part 150 Noise Control Plan, the MSP plan approved by FAA in 1994, specifies a much different public hearing process. It appears the Plan is ignored in every significant detail except the enforcement of some of the SIP eligibility contours and partial noise mitigation. SMAAC notes, the large scope of the Sound Insulation Program not withstanding, that mitigation is based on a plan that included implementati on of noise abatement measures for the target year and a process to account for both better-than-projected and worse-than-projected noise reduction results.
At no time since MAC skipped the 1996 update, required by FAR Part 150 and its own Noise Control Plan, has MAC considered how more flights and continued use of the noisiest planes added to noise exposure; not even after new noise exposure maps were prepared for the FEIS approved in 1998. In that seven years period, MAC failed to complete 3 or 4 plan updates, held 27 quarterly meetings, and has yet to answer the question: Isn't a noise exposure map update required, fair, needed, and overdue?