MN Attorney General Confirms SMAAC AOEE Appeal

In February, SMAAC made an Administrative Appeal of the MSP 2014 Annual Assessment of Environmental Effects (AOEE). The EQB staff did not acknowledge the Appeal.  An inquiry in May revealed that the EQB staff opinion was that the Appeal was misdirected.

Last month the Minnesota Attorney General  wrote SMAAC that the Administrative Appeal was properly addressed to the EQB.  SMAAC attempted to contact the EQB by telephone and by email. Notwithstanding the AG opinion, an EQB staffer wrote SMAAC this week suggesting that we take both our (procedural) appeal and the substance of our contention that the procedural error, if any, had a material effect on the AOEE findings back to the MAC.

SMAAC responded that we had been seeking a discussion of noise and air pollution increases from flight operational changes, citing correspondence from FAA the changes in overflight altitude and a definitive (we thought) scientific study connecting specific submicron particulates pollution to low-flying jet aircraft.  The procedural errors were, we alleged, that the above documents were not included in the Hearing Record, the absence of public deliberation (or identification of the deliberators) responsible for the Finding of No Significant Impact.


Is Flight Safety at MSP related?  We noted that the MAC staff Memo Itransmitting the AOEE Report and the record of testimony and comments to the Commissioners) suggested our environmental comments were motivated by mistaken concerns (about frequent near-simultaneous use of converging runways at MSP).  SMAAC indeed expressed a safety concern in solicited comments on the MSP Capital Improvements Plan and worte the Commission several times last Summer informing them that SMAAC had specific information related to MSP  safety risk management in a letter from National Transportation Safety Board Chair Chrisopher Hart. 

The CIP comments were separate, not intended for the AOEE Hearing, but were included in the AOEE comments by MAC staff.  The letter from Chair Hart, however, was not included in the AOEE public record either.

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  • Forum Manager
    commented 2015-09-05 13:51:05 -0500
    Update: A core SMAAC group in the Standish-Ericsson neighborhood and adjancent areas is asking that SMAAC present the options we have been proposing since 2012 in a public meeting. Other SMAAC supporters want to at least pursue the Attornwy-General’s suggestion that litigation is an option.

    The Federal government is likely to adopt carbon emissions limits that will require changes in airport operations throughout the U.S.
    It is likely that FAA will limit hourly use of MSP for safety and that individual flight operations will
    be adjusted to minimize emissions.

    Those recent changes apparaently were not factored into the MSP LTCP forecasts or the 2016 -2020 forecasts. Minnesota economic growth forecasts drive the TPP (capacity). Environmental reviews under EPA/FAA rules and MPCA EAW (not AOEE) procedures are required for the MAC airports. Hence our appeal of the 2014 AOEE for not considering the “cumulative impact” of emissions is rational. Emissions from MSP or MSP flight operations can be derived from EPA findings on aviation green-house gas emissions and submicron particulate pollution, by comparison with the LAX study. Neither were considered, casting doubt on the 2014 AOEE findings.

    The MAC and the airlines —passenger and cargo —using MSP at present have contracts and relationships that impact operations and froecasted use.

    The MAC is trying to pick its way around sharing how the flight forecasts are reviewed (airline estimates without commitments) and what Minnesota pollution rules apply.
  • Forum Manager
    commented 2015-08-08 14:47:12 -0500
    SMAAC is willing to compromise. We are not, however, willing to offer evidence in a public debate where the opposing team poses the question, makes up the rules of evidence, prepares our summation and judges the outcome.

    What is the better public policy?

    We think the changes made at MSP, recently announced by FAA, confirm that peak-hour operations need to be changed (fewer operations per hour). Safe operations may not require as many turns off the runway headings (new routes), may not require completion of NextGen for safety or fuel efficiency and may not require $billions more investments in airport facilities and expansion for the same needed local passenger capacity.

    FAA/EPA rules require (not ’allow") choosing a less costly airport plan of equal capacity and the same or less environmental impact.