The South Metropolitan Airports Action Council is a citizens’ association with a broad membership of citizens, landowners, businesses, groups, and institutions directly impacted by MSP. We are informed witnesses who monitored actions of the Metropolitan Airports Commission [“MAC”] for many years. Our comments are in three parts:
First, About This Update Itself:
1. The NCP posted for comment was not developed from the NCP approved in 1994 or within the legal proceedings required by law. It was prepared contrary to 14CFR 150.21-150.23. This so-called hearing, the Noise Oversight Committee, and untimely comments by the public at a few meetings are unworthy of the certification on Page 2.
2. Spurred by airline lobbyists and back-room discussions, MAC chose 2002 as the base year for this Update, in effect crediting the tragic events of September 11, 2001 (which temporarily reduced use of MSP) as a noise-reduction measure.
This Update, target year 2007, reversed a previous decision, in October 2001, to keep the prior update intact (not withdraw it) because, the Commission stated, use of MSP had exceeded projected levels for 2005 and recovery at least to that level was considered certain. This proved to be accurate through 2004.
You will recall that a year before, Halloween, 2000, airline representatives on MASAC withdrew. MASAC was disbanded, in spite of its designation as MSP Noise Abatement action #1. The only recourse for citizen input, other than frequent – and mostly unwelcome – conversations with Commissioners was monitoring commission and committee meetings..
The prior update, submitted in late 1999, was still under review by FAA in September 2001, and use of the parallel runways in 2000 and 2001 were known to exceed MAC’s projections by half (150%) and overall use projections as well (125% approximately). That Update specified NCP projects for 1996 to 2001.
3. Even before the prior update was withdrawn, MAC was constantly petitioned for relief from excessive noise arising from expansion. We argued that justice delayed is justice denied. Unmitigated noise over 65 DNL frequently and continually occurred between 1996 and 2002. This is as “measured” by contour maps published for Part 150, EIS/EAW, and Dual-Track uses, including both actual and projected flight data. Just as the 1996 base year noise exposure map revealed gross under-estimation of airport noise because actual operational use of MSP differed drastically from that modeled, the (NCP Update and the) 2007 mitigated noise exposure map is based on unlikely and potentially infeasible assumptions (centered on peak-rates required for continued hub operations), flawed methods for projections, and, it appears, favors granted to Northwest Airlines.
4. MAC limited the scope of development of the assumptions and use forecasts to national aviation industry data and anonymous but self-serving airline projections of MSP use and passenger demand.
HNTB’s contract with MAC was limited to these sources although they proposed using wider economic data and forecasts as usual in Part 150 Updates. MSP use since the 2007 passenger forecast was recommended by NOC, endorsed by Commissioners, and submitted for this review has been far above the forecast trend. The percent local passengers, which determines the PFC revenue underlying NCP projects, has not been reported even though it was a primary concern of the public and the legislature in the dual-track study and made a condition of MSP expansion in the 1996 Law and the FEIS/ROD.
Second, About Treatment of Excessive Noise in the 64-60 DNL areas. Page 2 of 2.
Many citizens are here tonight because they are outraged by changes1 already adopted by MAC in a capital improvement project. The contour map now proposed for 2007 in this Part 150 Update was already incorporated as a draft. in the revised MAC plan for 64-60 areas (part of the 2004-2009 CIP).
Originally, the public was told the full SIP was going to be extended to residences, schools, and hospitals in 64-60 DNL areas as a condition of expansion. SMAAC believes this is an enforceable condition of the 1996 law, subject only to the limitations of forecasts and projections and details of construction and schedule. Now MAC is telling us this tale: noise in the new 64 - 60 DNL areas in 2002 was less than it was in 1996. Be sure to let MAC know if you disagree.
The connection with the Part 150 Update can be seen in Tables 5.2 [page 5-7 or sheet 138] and 5.4, [page 5-15 or sheet 146]. The Federal standards are: residences including nursing homes with the usual insulation and any School, Church or Hospital are considered a compatible use in the 64-60 DNL area. The consultant finds 25,515 structures in the 64-60 DNL in the 2002 map.
MAC says about 215 (2.5% of single-family residences in the new 2007 map) lack the “usual (15 db) insulation” However, about 9,000 of these same 25,000 structures were in 1996 unmitigated 69-65 areas.
Minnesota Law 1996 directed MSP expansion under stringent conditions:
1. Sufficient local passenger capacity to meet projected growth and economical demand through 2020 and during the intervening years, also increasing airline competition.
2. Fully mitigate any unavoidable environmental impacts.
3. Extend the Sound Insulation Program [“SIP”] for noise mitigation during and after expansion out to the 60 DNL.
The 1996 Legislative negotiators didn’t give a fig about the Federal compatible-use standard. They had before them the contour maps based on low-ball projections for 1995, 2000, and 2005. The deal was full insulation or removal of 17,000 structures projected in unmitigated 69-65 DNL areas and all structures in the unmitigated 2005 64-60 DNL areas. In those days, diverting noise as compared to abating noise was better understood. The FEIS and ROD, 1998, imposed noise abatement conditions beyond Part 150 rules.
Third, What is Next?
If you’re hoping MAC will re-instate the Extended SIP, revise this Update, and adopt a reasonably fair noise compatibility program as a result of public pressure, you are about 500 meetings and two failed Committees behind the times.
If past performance is our guide, the NCP will be adopted by MAC without significant change, whatever public comments are received. The Noise Exposure Map [“NEM”], contour map, has been used as a basis for other actions, and will be unmodified, whatever wrong assumptions are proven or input errors discovered. The impacted citizens can only hope FAA or other authorities intervene. You are all invited to join in SMAAC’s efforts to secure the intervention of other authorities.