MSP Long-Term Planning Delayed Again

We worked diligently with key MAC staff, but the only change was a more respectful dialog with staff. The first public discussion of MSP Environmental Impacts is now scheduled December 04, 2017 at the MAC Planning, Development & Environment Committee (PD&E) meeting. 

The Assessment of Environmental Effects (AOEE) in part of a larger agenda item, the 2018-2024 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM. The only good news is that on-airport operations of all sorts are 'greener' --such as more electric vehicles reducing fossil-fuel use --although large new buildings and growth of airport operations still increases  total not-air-operations emissions. 

This MAC electric vehicle program and other reductions of carbon sources was publicized as a laudable accomplishment by comparison with other U.S. Airports.  SMAAC was pleased and elected officials were thrilled that something was being done.

GHG and other carbon emissions from overflights and air operations (landings, take-offs, taxiing) are mentioned, not assessed or quantified. Only a small increase in daily flight operations is projected for 2018. There was no follow-up on our question about possible changes in hourly use by airlines schedules or changes in FAA routes and procedures somehow evading the converging runways safety order of 2014 that led to the continued shading of long-term plans for hub expansion.

 We'd bet a bundle that the questions we asked will not be discussed in the public meeting.  In 2015 and 2016 the AOEE hearings heard nothing, and written testimony was disputed by MAC staff. SMAAC was the only speaker in 2016, given 4 minutes as if the public hearing was not worth the Members' time. Our comments took longer, but it was clear that no questions were going to be asked on the record.

 If you think public meetings are important, then demand that these critical meetings be opened up and held on an accessible site and at a more reasonable time. Come to the December 4th meeting (10:30 at Twrminal One inide security. And call Steve Cramer, the PD&E Chair at 612-656-3811, the Governor [651-201-3400] and Email MAC Chair Dan Boivin at  Their promises of off-site Commission meetings and transparency were empty.





Given that the MAC Environmental Department does not concern itself with global warming or other epidemological or pollution science regarding overflights, we were not surprised that the FAA/EPA Findings that GHG emissions from commercial aviation is a public health issue, emitting about 14% of all U.S. carbon releases to the atmosphere. SMAAC's suggestion that EAWs ought to consider incremental increases in pollution approaching a standard or permit limit a reason to start an EIS process.  The Manager told me that EAWs were not 'required.'  A few EAWs were written but evaluated by the authors as needing no further action. SMAAC and others consider this dilatory, if not a sham --worse than doing nothing --and asked legislators to designate an external, more objective reviewer (local gvernment unit).  

So this year, we focused on how the MAC is projecting more flights/year after 2020 and the cost of safety risk management if the operations are often at busier hours. Our questions about this were answered by the Planning and Development Vice President, Bridget Rief as part of the Municipalities Review.  It was her contention that the 2020 Environmental Review of airport development plans legally allowed construction to proceed without updating the MSP LTCP for 2035. Capital Improvement projects for 2011 to 2018 were named in the latest Update of the MSP LTCP in 2010.

It is SMAAC's view that the FAA/EPA Finding, the new 2015 to 2035 passenger and operations forecasts, Spirit Ailines making a hub at MSP, and particularly the CRO Safety Order were surely not previously plannned but cannot be ignored.

Health risks, safety and noise distrubance in South Minneapolis are not considered issues because so few people showed up at the election-eve AOEE/CIP meetings last year.

SMAAC notes that the flight forecasts and other numbers and financing topics in the last (2010) MSP Long-Term Comprehensive Plan (LTCP) were modified in August 2015. The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) is required by law to submit a LTCP Update every 5 years to the Metropolitan Council as part of the Metro Transportation Policy Plan (TPP). 
Why hasn't that been done? 

Each year, Met Council reviews the MSP Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), for the next 7 years and approves the next year's CIP projects as consistent with the TPP. However, the 2016-2023 CIP affects flight capacity at MSP, but now the forecasts differ compared to those included in the 2010 Environmental Review and the 2011-2018 CIP.
Which CIP was applied by Met Council for 2016 projects?

What will be the basis for the 2017 CIP approvals when the 2017 projects are approved?

 Why is this important? 
In brief, no noise map changes delayed planning after the September 2010 and subsequent air traffic control changes, perhaps because monthly changes in routes and runway use, if modeled, would dispute the noise maps evaluated for the 2010 Environmental Review and the annual MAC reviews. The MAC said that the July 2013 Converging Runways Safety Warning, they were sure, could be clarified to safely allow more arrivals per hour and operations would be little different than in the July 2013 to June 2014 (12 months) and OK for 2015-2016 planning purposes. The CRO Safety Order was issued 1 July 2015.
 MSP is still waiting for those changes. SMAAC and the Met Council have only this information: no changes are now anticipated until late next year. SMAAC, however, has information that the FAA Office of Safety is unlikely to increase arrivals without limiting departures. 

This limitation surely affects MSP Long-Term planning, more so because the MAC approved MSP flight forecasts in 2015 projecting more use of MSP in later years (2022 to 2030) than forecast in 2010 for those years. SMAAC submitted LTCP and CIP Comments in 2014 repeated for the 2015 CIP expecting the CRO Order, and at the November 2016 Hearing before the Planning, Development and Environment Committee. We will repeat the need to deal with the LTCP Update and the FAA Environmental Hearing at the December MAC Meeting (2017 budget approvals). 

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