03.30.11

Schiff Testifies Before House Rules Committee

Washington, DC –Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) testified before the House Rules Committee, urging them to allow the House to consider legislation he introduced with colleagues Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, the Valley-Wide Noise Relief Act, as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill, which is set to come to the House floor toward the end of the week. The amendment will allow Bob Hope and Van Nuys Airports to adopt curfews.

“The thousands of San Fernando Valley residents who have long-sought relief from aviation-related nighttime noise in the vicinity of the Burbank and Van Nuys airports should be able to have their concerns about this critical issue heard,” Rep. Schiff said. “I urge the Rules Committee to provide the full House the opportunity to vote on this important issue, which will allow many San Fernando Valley residents to enjoy the peace and quiet they deserve.”

Rep. Schiff’s testimony, as prepared for delivery before the Rule Committee, was as follows:

“Chairman, Ranking Member and other Members of the Committee thank you for providing me the opportunity to speak in support of the amendment to the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011 (H.R. 658)  that I have submitted, along with my Southern California colleagues Mr. Sherman and Mr. Berman. This amendment would allow airports that meet specific requirements – airports that already had at least a partial curfew in effect before the 1990 Airport Noise and Control Act (ANCA) – to implement mandatory nighttime curfews.

“Thousands of residents of Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, who live under the flight paths or near the terminals at the Bob Hope and Van Nuys Airports, endure the house-shaking noise of air traffic during the day and suffer the jarring interruption of their sleep caused by a roaring jet.

“To address the concerns of those affected by airport noise across the nation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established a process to consider a community’s request for a curfew.  However, the process was designed to be so difficult that in the decades since it was established by the FAA, only one airport in the nation has successfully completed an application – Bob Hope Airport.  And then it was summarily turned down.

“After years of effort and millions of dollars to complete its application for a curfew, the FAA rejected Bob Hope’s request, erroneously contending that the small number of flights impacted by the curfew will impose too great a strain on the country’s aviation system and too great a cost on users.  In reality, the FAA approached the process in reverse, beginning with the conclusion it wished to reach and working backwards to try to justify its result.  It is clear to us that the only way to provide relief to the residents in our community is through legislative action. 

“Our amendment would allow these two airports – and only these two airports – to adopt nighttime curfews between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., which would finally provide relief to the thousands of area residents who have long-sought a solution to aviation-related nighttime noise.  The amendment would clarify that for many of the same reasons that several airports that were grandfathered exemptions to ANCA when the law passed, that Bob Hope and Van Nuys Airports should also be exempted from ANCA since they both had at least a partial curfew in effect before 1990.  The amendment also establishes the process for implementing and administrating the curfew.

“I urge the Committee to make in order this amendment, so that the residents of the San Fernando Valley can have their concerns about this critical issue heard and the full House can have the opportunity to vote on this important issue.”

Background

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Schiff and co-sponsored by Reps. Sherman and Berman, would clarify that, for many of the same reasons that several other airports were exempted when it was enacted in 1990, these two airports should be exempted from the Airport Noise and Capacity Act. In the case of the Bob Hope Airport, this was one of the first airports in the country to impose a curfew. The Van Nuys curfew was a partial curfew that applied to some, but not all, operators. The language would allow Burbank and Van Nuys Airports to adopt non-discriminatory curfews applicable to operators from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The legislation would apply only to airports that already had at least a partial curfew in effect before 1990 when ANCA was enacted. The legislation is designed to address the omission of not allowing curfews at these two airports, but is not intended to open the door to any further exemptions from that Act.

Furthermore, it would address concerns that the FAA cited in rejecting Burbank’s Part 161 application for a curfew – that it would add congestion to an already crowded airspace and it would impact the national system of airports because it would cause system wide delays. The proposal would have a minimal impact on local airspace because a joint curfew for both airports is designed to ensure that air traffic is not shifted from one airport to the other. Additionally, as Van Nuys Airport is part of a larger consortium of airports, including one of the largest in the country, LAX, that is willing and able to accept nighttime traffic the consortium can structure and implement the curfew in a manner that ensures that it does not negatively affect local and national airspace.

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