The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that it is conducting public workshops regarding the implementation of Denver Metroplex. This is a new system of flight paths concentrating flights into DIA over neighborhoods along the Front Range that have never been subjected to significant aviation noise or pollution in the past. In Southern California where Metroplex was instituted a year ago, complaints from established communities including Santa Monica and Laguna Beach have recorded unbearable noise and severe air pollution. In addition, official records in Santa Monica show that commercial planes into LAX are frequently flying substantially below the designated Metroplex minimum with the FAA taking the position that it cannot control errant flights.
The workshop dates will be over a period of three weeks between April 29 and May.
Arapahoe County Workshops (5 to 7 p.m.)
May 2 — Aurora Municipal Center, Building Lobby, 15151 East Alameda Parkway, Aurora
May 7 — City of Centennial Community Room, 7272 South Eagle St. Centennial
May 8 — Cherry Creek High School, 9300 East Union Ave. Greenwood Village
May 9 — Arapahoe Community College – Half Moon Room, 5900 South Santa Fe Drive, Littleton
The FAA states on its website the anticipated release of the Draft Environmental Assessment is April 22. The public will have one week or less to review and prepare comments before the first workshop. All public comments must be submitted by June 6. It is unclear whether the FAA will accept written comments submitted after the last workshop. The public is directed to look at the Denver Metroplex project website for updates on the release of the Draft Environmental Assessment. (www.faa.gov/nextgennearyou/communityinvolvement/den/).
In lieu of a Draft Environmental Assessment, it is likely that the FAA will issue a “categorical exclusion” commonly referred to as a finding of “no significant impact.” This is accomplished by the FAA plugging numbers that do not necessarily relate specifically to a region, into an algorithm (developed by the FAA and aviation industry representatives). Originally this status was typically reserved for actions that individually or cumulatively did not have a significant effect on the human environment. The FAA has made a finding of no significant impact in every jurisdiction where Metroplex has been instituted, regardless of the multitude of lawsuits around the country objecting to the impact of both noise and air pollution on communities.
In response to concerned communities impacted by Metroplex around the country, Congress recently passed bipartisan legislation requiring the FAA, among other things, to evaluate the health implications of the Metroplex program arising from both noise and air pollution. This was bipartisan legislation that was signed by the president. It was not controversial.
To that end the FAA has created Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction (PARTNER). One of the scientific papers listed as a source by PARTNER predicts that by 2050 there will be more than a twelvefold increase in mortality rates arising from ischemic heart disease, stroke, COPD, and lung cancer attributable to the increased emissions of the aviation sector. That is an increase in the number of deaths, not an increase in the number of people diagnosed with these health issues.
Studies regarding the health impact of noise appear to have been commissioned by the FAA but have not been completed. Other non FAA initiated studies show that aviation noise causes and contributes to cardiac disease and depression and significantly lowers the test scores of children living in homes or going to school impacted by aviation noise.
The FAA has consistently minimized the impact of aviation noise on communities by characterizing it as an “annoyance.” Metroplex generated aviation noise is not an “annoyance” it has significant adverse impact on communities including the health and welfare of residents.
Why is the FAA proceeding to implement Metroplex in our region notwithstanding wide spread litigation and Congressional action requiring the FAA to conduct studies into adverse health impacts associated with aviation noise and pollution? Perhaps the FAA will clarify their decision at the public workshops. Until the results of these studies are known it is common sense, in the interest of public safety, to continue flights into DIA along the existing dispersed flight paths, at existing altitudes. It makes no sense to concentrate both noise and pollution over established single and multi-family residences, parks, hospitals and schools that have never in the past experienced significant flight noise or pollution. DIA was placed far to the east of Denver so that the adverse impact of noise and pollution would not impact existing communities along the Front Range. To move flight paths from rural fields east of DIA, to high density neighborhoods “flies” in the face of the purpose of either the Environmental Assessment or the Categorical Exclusion.
Please attend one of the public workshops. For residents of Arapahoe County, we are requesting that folks attend the May 2 public workshop in order to garner information from the FAA so that the public will be better informed for purposes of the next three meetings in Arapahoe County. Concerned residents should try to attend at least one of the public workshops in order to register their questions and objections, as applicable.
As many of you know Centennial Airport is strongly opposed to Denver Metroplex. Based upon the data they have reviewed to date it will adversely impact the safety of general aviation aircraft and increase the noise and pollution of general aviation on our communities. They have substantial amounts of information on Denver Metroplex on their website.
Please alert friends and neighbors. Unlike other communities, the Denver region is not going to be caught off guard. Perhaps the FAA will make health and safety of our communities a priority over fuel savings. Alternatively, as one commercial aviation lobbyist said, some communities will simply become “collateral damage.”
None of our long established communities in the Denver metropolitan area should become noise and pollution ghettos to satisfy the FAA and the commercial aviation industries’ desire to reduce fuel costs or flight delays.
Please join me and others in looking for common sense solutions that protect the health, safety and welfare of our communities.
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