August 24, 2018 Newsletter

U.S. Senate News and Another Press Roundup

Dear Neighbors —

I hope you will not feel as bombarded this week by QQS emails as we usually do by airplanes.  But I have more news to share and more press clippings, too.

These press items came from our amazing long-time member, Maria Becce, who is one of the best researchers I know, and via Dr. Peter Muennig and the press office at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.  

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THE SENATE QUIET COMMUNITIES ACT

This afternoon, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced into the Senate a bill called The Quiet Communities Act.  The bill, if passed, would re-establish the Office of Noise Abatement at the EPA.

The bill was introduced previously into the House of Representative by Rep. Grace Meng and in the Senate by Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand.  It did not pass.  

Here is the text of an article posted on Politico.com this afternoon::

“By Nick Niedzwiadek  08/24/2018 03:18 PM EDT

New York’s two Democratic Senators announced today that they are sponsoring legislation that would require the federal government to mitigate noise pollution from airplanes.

The Quiet Communities Act, which Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) of Queens introduced in May 2017 as H.R. 2539 (115), would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to reestablish the Office of Noise Abatement and Control through the 2023 fiscal year. The office was disbanded in 1981 for budgetary reasons, leaving the issue to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Empowering the same agency tasked with protecting our environment to protect our communities from excessive and burdensome aircraft noise while working alongside the FAA makes eminent sense,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a release. 

The issue is particularly acute in New York City with LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports. Earlier this month Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health published research that found a 2012 change in flight paths at LaGuardia put an estimated 83,000 residents at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and anxiety, due to the overhead noise.

“Our communities should not have to endure excessive airplane noise that strongly impacts their quality of life, and this legislation will provide additional tools to assist communities by reestablishing an EPA Office of Noise Abatement & Control,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in the release. 

Earlier this week state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens) said he wants the state to help fund the study going forward to further look at potential negative health impacts due to the flight paths.”

Re-establishing the Noise Abatement Office of the EPA would take control of aviation noise excesses out of the hands of the FAA.  Noise would be regulated by a more appropriate agency, with the potential to levy fines and otherwise control the abuse of our communities.

Thanks to Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand and Rep. Meng for taking these steps on our behalf.

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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE

I don’t have a link to the article, so I will reproduce it here.  Links to more articles follow this one.

Lawmaker Urges LaGuardia Flight Path Changes

Call comes after study says noise from one route could shave year off lives of some Queens residents

A plane prepared to land at LaGuardia Airport in 2017. Researchers estimated the Tennis Climb path affects 83,000 people living in densely populated areas of Queens. PHOTO:TIMOTHY FADEK/BLOOMBERG NEWS

5 COMMENTS

By 

Paul Berger

Aug. 21, 2018 7:56 p.m. ET

A New York state senator is calling for changes to a flight path at LaGuardia Airport after a study found the noise it generates could reduce the lifespans of some Queens residents by about one year.

“That’s incredible, and it also shows just how dangerous these numerous flights are,” said Sen. Tony Avella, a Democrat who represents residents in affected neighborhoods. “There’s a direct health impact—you can’t escape that fact.”

The study was conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and published in the Aug. 15 issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Until a few years ago, the flight path, known as Tennis Climb, was in effect only during the U.S. Open. The route takes departing planes along a tight corridor to the east of LaGuardia and then north, sparing players and spectators at Arthur Ashe Stadium the roar of jet engines.

But in 2012, with the growing use of GPS-based flight systems, the Federal Aviation Administration made the path a year-round route. Mr. Avella said that noise complaints from residents shot up immediately.

The Columbia study is based on an analysis of the hypothetical impact of noise on health, rather than on health data from local residents.

According to the study, there are some potential economic benefits to the flight path. Using GPS data, the FAA can optimize flight patterns and reduce flight time, costs and pollution.

But the researchers believe those benefits are outweighed by the cost to residents and the region in terms of increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease and anxiety caused by prolonged exposure to continuous noise exceeding 60 decibels.

Researchers estimated the route affects 83,000 people living in some of the most densely populated areas of eastern and northeastern Queens.

Reverting to use of the flight path only during the U.S. Open would cost the region $950 million in lost efficiencies—or about $10,000 per person for an additional year of healthy life, said Peter Muennig, a professor of health policy at Columbia and a co-author of the study.

He said that is less expensive than screening for breast cancer. “There is almost no better investment you could make if you wanted to prevent disease,” he said.

A spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates LaGuardia, declined to comment on the study. A spokesman for the FAA said the agency hasn’t had a chance to review the report’s findings.

Mr. Avella said he would like to see the study expanded to look at the effect of other flight paths on neighborhoods in Queens. He also wants the FAA and the Port Authority to consider limiting flights over densely populated areas.

Janet McEneaney, president of Queens Quiet Skies, an advocacy group that provided noise data for the study, said: “The cost of reckless aviation expansion in our metro New York area is too high, as the study demonstrates.”

—Katie Honan contributed to this article.

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MORE PRESS ABOUT THE COLUMBIA STUDY

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AND A LOOK BACKWARD

Maria sent the link to an article published 5 years ago tomorrow in the New York Times.  It’s a long and well-researched article.  She suggested it was a good idea to read it again and I agree.  

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It’s been quite a week.  We’ll see what happens next.  

Janet

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